Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks know what they need in Game 2 vs. Predators: 'Our intensity has to go up'

Blackhawks know what they need in Game 2 vs. Predators: 'Our intensity has to go up'

Being down 1-0 in a series isn't ideal, but the Blackhawks aren't sweating it. Still, if they want to grab a split heading to the Nashville portion of this series, the Blackhawks will have to play much better than they did on Thursday.

Dennis Rasmussen will make his NHL postseason debut and Ryan Hartman will be back on the top line as the Blackhawks host the Predators in Game 2 of their first-round series on Saturday night. The Blackhawks didn't mount much of a net-front attack in Game 1, a situation exacerbated by the Predators' strong defensive game – they blocked 26 shots.

"Our defensemen did a nice job of trying to tie up sticks or get stick on puck. That'll probably hold true the rest of the series: we'll have to play them tight defensively," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "They're an offensive group that's dynamic and been together for a while – at least the core has – and they're capable of generating a lot of offense. That leads itself back to playing good defense. We did it well in Game 1 we're going to have to do it well tonight."

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The Blackhawks will have to fight to get past the Predators' defense, which stifled them in Game 1. Their overall game, however, needs to be better.

"I think just our level of intensity has to go up. Be harder on pucks," Brian Campbell said. "Obviously getting pucks to the net and creating traffic and havoc. those are the keys that come with desperation."

The Blackhawks have been here, done this before in series, although it's been a while since they've trailed 1-0 when starting a series at home. Going back to 2009, here's how the Blackhawks have fared in postseason series when losing Game 1:

Year   Opponent     Game 1          Series result
2016              @STL             L 1-0 (OT)    Lost series in 7
2015              @ANA            L 4-1              Won series in 7
2014              @STL             L 4-3 (3OT) Won series in 6
2012              @ARI             L 3-2 (OT)    Lost series in 6
2011              @VAN            L 2-0              Lost series in 7
2010              NSH                L 4-1              Won series in 6
2010              VAN                L 5-1              Won series in 6
2009              @VAN            L 5-3              Won series in 6
2009              @DET            L 5-2              Lost series in 5

Concern? Yes. Panic? No. But the Blackhawks will need veterans and postseason rookies alike to mesh.

"I feel we have a lot of great leaders who have been around a long time. It helps the young guys, me included, who haven't played a lot of playoff games," Rasmussen said. "We've had some talks here. We're still calm and know what to do out there. We have to bring some more traffic at the net, create more shots and better chances. Hopefully we can do that tonight."

Meanwhile on the injury front, Andrew Desjardins has not started skating yet but coach Joel Quenneville said the forward is "pretty close" to doing so.

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Chicago Blackhawks
Forward lines
Ryan Hartman-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Nick Schmaltz-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
Dennis Rasmussen-Tanner Kero-Jordin Tootoo

Defensive pairs 
Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Johnny Oduya-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Corey Crawford

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Michal Rozsival (facial fractures), Andrew Desjardins (lower body).

Nashville Predators
Forward lines (projected/Predators had optional skate)
Filip Forsberg-Ryan Johansen-Viktor Arvidsson
Kevin Fiala-Mike Fisher-James Neal
Pontus Aberg-Calle Jarnkrok-Craig Smith
Cody McLeod-Colton Sissons-Austin Watson

Defensive Pairs
Roman Josi-Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm-P.K. Subban
Yannick Weber-Matt Irwin

Pekka Rinne

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Colin Wilson (lower body).

Jeremy Roenick thinks NBA offseason player drama 'is a joke'


Jeremy Roenick thinks NBA offseason player drama 'is a joke'

For the past decade, NBA stars have moved away from trying to beat down each other on the court and have instead looked to form superteams in an effort to maximize their chances at winning a title or building a dynasty.

There's a debate to be had whether that's good or bad for the game, but the offseason drama has gotten under the skin of one former NHL player who has seen enough.

Jeremy Roenick, former Blackhawks winger and current NHL on NBC analyst, took to Twitter to voice his opinion surrounding the drama amid the Kyrie Irving situation evolving in Cleveland, and he didn't hold back:

Do you agree or disagree?

Could Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher be an option for Blackhawks?

Could Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher be an option for Blackhawks?

The calendar is quickly approaching August and a majority of the NHL's top free agents have already signed new deals or found new homes. But there's one marquee player who has suddenly shaken loose, and will surely draw heavy interest across the league.

That would be 22-year-old defenseman Will Butcher, who informed the Colorado Avalanche that he will hit the open market and become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15.

Butcher, a 2013 fifth-round draft pick, was named the recipient of the 2017 Hobey Baker Award, annually given to college hockey's top player, after scoring seven goals and 30 assists in 43 games during his senior campaign while helping Denver University capture its first national title since 2005. It's the second straight year NCAA's top player has elected not to sign with the club that drafted him, with Jimmy Vesey doing the same last year when he signed with the New York Rangers instead of the Nashville Predators.

So could Butcher be a real option for the Blackhawks? There's certainly a reason for both sides to be intrigued by a potential match. 

With Brian Campbell, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya no longer in the picture, the Blackhawks could use a young, NHL-ready blue liner with top-four potential and Butcher provides just that.

He's a 5-foot-10, 186-pound puck-moving defenseman with high offensive upside but also plays a solid two-way game and is responsible in his own end. He carries a left-handed shot, quarterbacked Denver's No. 1 power play unit and possesses strong leadership skills after serving as the team's captain for two years.

While he is certainly no sure thing, Butcher would be as close to pro ready as any prospect in Chicago's system and could factor into the cards as soon as this season. It also doesn't hurt that he shared the same blue line at Denver as Blackhawks prospect Blake Hillman, who drew great reviews from Joel Quenneville at prospect camp.

The good news for the cap-crunched Blackhawks is that the maximum allowable salary for an entry-level contract is $925,000, so that eliminates the possibility of getting into a bidding war with other teams. Signing and performance bonuses can still be included, but that's the least of their worries if they can land a player of Butcher's caliber.

His decision will really come down to best fit and opportunity to play and win, and the Blackhawks can offer all of the above.