CSN Sets Record

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CSN Sets Record

Monday, April 19, 2010
8:31 PM

By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

Game 1 lived up to the concerns about this matchup I wrote about last week.

Game 2 lived up to my belief the Blackhawks will win this series.

But just as the Hawks and their Nation had to tell themselves after Friday night it was just one game, they must also keep that perspective after two games. It's the Hawks' job to do here in Music City in either Game 3 or 4 what those pesky Preds managed to do in the Windy City opener.

Sunday night's game reminded me of another recent 2-0 game viewed by many as "must win." Back on March 23rd, after losing a third period lead and fallng in Phoenix three nights earlier, they rematched with the 'Yotes at the UC and locked down to halt their nine-game winning streak and open up a four-point lead on the hard-charging Dogs in another Antti Niemi shutout.

Speaking of whom...

Is it possible to be any more impressed with how the two playoff rookies in the net have performed? The Twin Finns have each allowed two goals over two games. The NHL playoff stats through the weekend listed Niemi and Rinne as 1-2 in both goals-against average and save percentage. Our soft-spoken shy guy has mental toughness that seems to grow every game, bouncing back after Friday's funky game-tying goal, and the winner many argue wasn't really his fault. He keeps to himself, but after sharing with reporters last week he isn't into media or public opinion, he's probably pretty smart, too.

His counterpart is either on an unbelievable roll, or he's turning into one of the best in the West. His reflexes and glove hand for a guy who's 6'5 are freaky fast. I've written before how I'm not a card-carrying member of the Luongo and Nabokov Fan Clubs. If I had a second choice right now in the conference after Ilya Bryzgalov, I might just take Rinne. Quick and Anderson have joined Niemi and Rinne in not letting any first-time post-season jitters interfere with their performances. Like his teammates around him, Rinne gets to settle in to a more comfortable crease at Bridgestone Arena for 3 and 4. The way he's performed so far, I wouldn't mind seeing the Hawks try to make him a little uncomfortable - not just with traffic, but as Joel Quenneville calls it, a little "abrasiveness" to see if it gets him off his game. Maybe see Big Buff down thereat least on the power play to reprise the role he so effectively filled last season. Don't be surprised if the Preds try that strategy out on Niemi, too.

Lost in some of the relief over the Game 2 win was the fact that Nashville's leading sniper didn't play, and was pretty invisible in Game 1. 30-goal scorer Patric Hornqvist is still working through the effects of one of teammate Shea Weber's triple-digit-speed slappers into his his chest a couple of weeks ago. If his health returns, and his scoring touch follows before it's too late, he's a key factor the Hawks must account for defensively. Just one of his goals came versus the Hawks in the season series, but 18 of his 30 came after their sixth and final meeting.

Got lots of other stuff I'd love to write about but time for me to dash as fast as I can to the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and Dollywood.

Yee-hah.

Why Blackhawks fans might want to tap the brakes on Alex DeBrincat

Why Blackhawks fans might want to tap the brakes on Alex DeBrincat

This is public service announcement regarding Alex DeBrincat and his potential this season with the Blackhawks:

Tap the brakes.

We’ve relayed this address a few times the past few seasons, most notably with Teuvo Teravainen as people eagerly anticipated his professional debut. We’re pretty sure when he was recalled for the first time, exultant trumpets played faintly in the background. But it bears repeating now with DeBrincat, who might or might not do fantastic things right out of training camp.

This warning, however, comes not only because DeBrincat might not be ready for the grand stage play-wise. It’s also because the Blackhawks might not have room for him.

Take a look at CapFriendly.com for the Blackhawks’ current situation: As they enter the fall they’re roughly $35,000 over the $75 million salary cap, but it’s not so much about money as it is the roster setup. There are 22 players currently listed on the Blackhawk’s CapFriendly roster, but only five defensemen. Also, of the 14 forwards listed, only one could be sent to Rockford without going through waivers (Nick Schmaltz).

So if there’s no room for DeBrincat, don’t be surprised.

Still, it’s going to be interesting to see what DeBrincat does at training camp this fall. You understand why the hype is there. DeBrincat is coming off three stellar seasons with the Erie Otters, with whom he had 127 points (65 goals, 62 assists) last season. DeBrincat is hopeful that a strong training camp could lead to opportunity, but he understands it might not be right away.

“I’m confident in my abilities,” DeBrincat said. “But they have a plan for me and I’ll do whatever they want me to do. I’ll stick with their plan.”

But the Blackhawks will take the slow-and steady approach with him as they did with past younger players. He’s only 19 years old, so there’s no need to rush his development. Playing time in the American Hockey League could be very beneficial for him as he makes the jump from the OHL to the pros. As former Otters coach Kris Knoblauch said earlier this summer, dealing with bigger and stronger players at this level is going to be the toughest hurdle for DeBrincat.

“It’s not that he’s afraid; he’s very good at battles. But just playing against the opposition, against five strong, fast players and just finding out how much time he has, where the room is,” Knoblauch said in early June. “One-on-one battles in our league, there are strong guys and he does fairly well. But when you have a unit of guys, it makes the game a little more difficult.”

DeBrincat will have his time with the Blackhawks. It just might not be right away, and for several reasons, including the current roster setup. So let’s tap the brakes. For now, anyway.

Boston University coach predicts breakout year for Blackhawks prospect Chad Krys

Boston University coach predicts breakout year for Blackhawks prospect Chad Krys

Chad Krys was like any other freshman college hockey player last season. He had his ups and downs and improved as the season continued. In a few months the Blackhawks prospect will be heading to Boston University for his sophomore year, and his coach believes he can be one of college’s best defensemen next season.

“Now that he’s comfortable and knows what’s expected of him, I don’t want to put too much pressure on him but I think he can have a breakout year,” said Boston Terriers coach David Quinn. “He’s played a lot of hockey, and I really think he has the elite talent, the work ethic continues to improve and his conditioning really improved.”

Krys, the Blackhawks’ second-round selection (45th overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft, is working toward that at this week’s Blackhawks prospect camp. Krys was part of what Quinn said was the youngest team in the country last season. The Terriers, who had nine freshmen in their lineup, fell to Minnesota-Duluth in the West Regional last March.

Even through the ups and downs, the lessons were valuable.

“Like coach Quinn said, our biggest problem was our immaturity but we couldn’t help that. We were all 18 and 19 years old. But I think it’ll be good for us having a lot of guys coming back and being returning players,” said Krys, who added the accelerated learning curve should help, too. “Going through that with everyone, especially in my class, there were a lot of us in a similar situation, trying to get to the next level. So I think we experienced a lot of team things.”

As a freshman, Krys had five goals and six assists in 39 games for the Terriers. He said he focused on trying to improve his overall defense last season, and Quinn said he took steps forward in that department.

“He’s always been a really good, gifted player and had the puck an awful lot. But most kids as they climb the hockey ladder, they haven’t had to defend a lot because they’ve had the puck a lot. At the higher level you have to play both ends of the rink,” Quinn said. “He had better defense, particularly off the rush and he did a better job down low defending. He also did a better job getting involved offensively.”

Considering Quinn’s outlook of Krys, it’s no surprise he’s pegging the young defenseman to be one of the Terriers’ leaders next season and beyond. Krys has an affable personality — at the 2016 NHL Draft he brought his GoPro and interviewed Alex DeBrincat, who was selected six picks prior to Krys. That, combined with his play make him a strong potential leader. Krys is fine with being that guy.

“That first year you’re a freshman and you’re just trying to find your way,” he said. “The second year I want to be more dynamic and more of a go-to guy for the team.”

All the potential is there for Krys to have a strong future with the Blackhawks – “I’d be more surprised if he didn’t play than he did. He’s a legit prospect,” Quinn said. Until then, his coach feels Krys is on the cusp of having a big season with Boston.

“The jump to college hockey’s big, and he’s feeling his way through it. He had a good first half but a better second half,” Quinn said. “There’s no reason he shouldn’t be one of the better defensemen in all of college hockey.”