Campbell sees differences in Hawks, Panthers


Campbell sees differences in Hawks, Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. Theres a good feeling brewing in South Florida.

Kris Versteeg is living on a golf course and waking up to see palm trees outside his window every day. Brian Campbell likes his new surroundings, too, even though hell still call Chicago his summer home.

The Panthers are trying to turn their franchise around, and former Blackhawks Campbell, Versteeg, Tomas Kopecky and Jack Skille are looking to help that cause.

Versteeg, who had an assist on Thursday night in the Blackhawks shootout victory, now has a team-leading 12 points. Campbell is just behind him with 11 points, all assists.

Said Campbell of the Panthers environment, were not walking on eggshells around here. Its, Go play hockey and work hard and have a lot of fun. Thats the best thing with Dale Tallon. You can say what you want to say, express your opinion and youre not walking around intimidated by anyone or scared to go out and do something. Its a great atmosphere.

Campbell said a good attitude has helped the Panthers thus far.

Its changed a lot, he said. We want to be a playoff team and we have the potential to do that. Theres a new attitude of whats expected of all of us. We have a lot of depth, lines that can go and work hard and we can roll them over. You need that in this league.

Versteeg said the Panthers have let a few points get away this season they are now 6-5-1 with 14 points but that the team is going in the right direction.

Weve given away a lot of points already, which is kind of scary. We couldve been at the top of our division but thats a lot of shoulda, coulda, wouldas, he said. Its about finding our game now, getting leads and not giving them away.

The Panthers have been sporting very young, inexperienced teams for a few seasons. And the former Blackhawks bring a confidence and Cup-proven swagger that could rub off on the newer players.

As for the bonds to that Cup-winning team, those never break.

Im always going to be a Blackhawk. Theyll always be in my heart, Versteeg said. You cant forget about what got you here and the route you took. But starting there and now, I look forward to being a Panther.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Expectations for John Hayden in the playoffs


Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Expectations for John Hayden in the playoffs

On this episode of the Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Tracey Myers and Pat Boyle breakdown Tuesday's controversial ending with Vancouver. They discuss whether Darling was interfered with on the game winning goal and did Toews deserve a penalty for running into Ryan Miller?

They also discuss the expectations for John Hayden and the tough lineup decisions at forward, that Joel Quenneville will have in the playoffs.

Tracey weighs in on who has been the more impressive goalie tandem, Crow and Emery in 2013 or this year's pair, Crow and Darling?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Blackhawks want to finish strong while staying fresh for postseason

Blackhawks want to finish strong while staying fresh for postseason

Every team has goals it wants to hit at various parts of the season. At the start you want to be strong so you can save yourself a mad scramble to get into the postseason. In the middle, you want to just keep pace, get through that drudgery known as games 40-60.

But what about the end? If you're a playoff-bound team it's about reaching balance: you want to play your best hockey but also want to get your rest and conserve energy for the "next season."

The Blackhawks are in this mode right now. The postseason berth has been wrapped up. They've hit the 100-point mark and still maintain a six-point lead in the conference/division. So with nine games left the Blackhawks will try to get that overall play they had through most of February while being mindful of rest.

"We have [nine] to go and want to make sure we're fresh. At the same time, we want to be competitive," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We're looking to play games and in games, if we have a chance to back off a little bit, that'll be dictated by the score, the time of the game."

Entering their last two games trailing by two, the Blackhawks haven't had the chance to back off. They've had to do the opposite. Quenneville has said the team's four-line rotation, which was great in February, hasn't been there the past few games. Part of that could be due to injury. Artem Anisimov has missed the last three-plus games with a left-leg injury and is still expected to miss another 2-3 weeks. The Blackhawks have found ways to win despite that, but want to get back to more consistent hockey.

"Obviously we still want to try to win our division you want to be playing well," Brian Campbell said. "The last [few] games have been OK, spurts and stuff, so we want to ramp it up. There are some guys who can probably back off if they need or want to, there are those situations. It's a good situation to have. But this team's been around, they know how to prepare and get ready for it."

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So does Quenneville. We've reached that time of the season when the Blackhawks won't practice much, if at all. They're playing every other day and their morning skates are their versions of practice. As for in games, the Blackhawks know how to keep their energy up there, too.

"I think just playing good hockey and taking short shifts is key. You're not extending shifts to a minute and a half, two minutes," Ryan Hartman said. "You're conserving some long-term energy."

The Blackhawks are nearing the regular-season finish line but another race awaits them. They want to be ready for the postseason but they don't want to get too relaxed down the stretch.

"It's still the regular season. Nobody's taking the foot off the gas pedal. We're still trying to win hockey games and you want to come into the playoffs with a winning atmosphere and winning attitude," Hartman said. "Take every game one at a time and don't try to play conservative. Play good and winning hockey."