Hawks Notes: Special teams off to the right start

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Hawks Notes: Special teams off to the right start

LOS ANGELES The Blackhawks special teams came under fire plenty last season, albeit for good reason. The power play couldnt score. The penalty kill couldnt prevent a score. It just wasnt good.

And while one game does not make a turnaround, the Blackhawks nevertheless liked the strides their power play and penalty kill made against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

The Blackhawks scored on one power play and kept the Kings scoreless on theirs en route to a 5-2 victory over Los Angeles today. Again, its just one game. But compared to last season, this was already better.

Scoring on our first 5-on-3 really boosted our team off the bat, coach Joel Quenneville said. All areas of our game pretty solid today, but special teams were definitely better than we saw last year.

Patrick Kanes goal with eight seconds left on a 5-on-3 was the start to a productive day. The Blackhawks went 0-for-4 on their other opportunities but still had better puck control and movement when they were on it. And on the other side, the Blackhawks stymied all five of the Kings power-play chances. The Kings had just five shots on those power plays combined.

Thats huge for us, Toews said of special teams. Thats going to win or lose some games for us. We have to focus on that. We have to be the hardest workers whether were killing or on the power play. It made a difference for us tonight.

Feeling better

Jonathan Toews missed Fridays practice with the flu. And while he may not have been 100 percent, he was nonetheless ready for Saturdays game. He played 18 minutes and 47 seconds, tops among the forwards, collecting a goal and an assist.

I felt better, but most of all I was just excited to play hockey again, Toews said. The excitement took over and gave me a little more jump.

Tidbits

Brent Seabrook led the Blackhawks in ice time (23:01) and led all players in blocked shots (seven).

Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick is usually stingy, especially against the Blackhawks. So Chicagos five-goal outburst was surprising. Quick gave up five goals only once last season, on April 5 against San Jose.

Brandon Saad, Michal Rozsival and Jamal Mayers were the Blackhawks healthy scratches on Saturday.

Blackhawks sign defenseman Michal Kempny to extension

Blackhawks sign defenseman Michal Kempny to extension

Michal Kempny was in and out of the Blackhawks lineup last season but he’ll likely get a bigger opportunity this coming season. On Saturday, he was assured of coming back to get that chance.

Kempny and the Blackhawks agreed to a one-year extension, the team announced on Saturday morning.

“Michal’s style of play is an asset to our defense,” general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. “He is the type of player who will continue to improve now that he has transitioned to the National Hockey League. We look forward to his continued development on the ice for the Blackhawks.”

Kempny was part of a very crowded blue line last season — he was one of eight defensemen at the start of it — and played 50 regular-season games. He recorded two goals and six assists in those contests but did not play in the Blackhawks’ four postseason contests. With Johnny Oduya and Brian Campbell likely not returning, however, Kempny should get a bigger opportunity this season.

The 26-year-old Kempny also had two goals and an assist in eight games for the Czech Republic team at the 2017 World Championship.

Blackhawks announce plans for NHL Draft Fan Fest

Blackhawks announce plans for NHL Draft Fan Fest

With exactly a month to go until Chicago hosts the 2017 NHL Draft for the first time ever, the Blackhawks and league announced Wednesday their plans for Fan Fest held outside the United Center on June 23 and 24.

A handful of Blackhawks players and alumni will be in attendance and made available for photo opportunities, as will the Stanley Cup. Fans will also be able to explore the NHL Centennial Fan Arena, "a 53-foot museum truck with an innovative interior featuring more than 1,000 square feet of interactive digital displays, original video content, one-of-a-kind historical memorabilia, unique photo moments and a social media wall," according to the press release.

A full list of activities, special guest appearances and schedule will be posted at a later date.

Friday's events will run from 3 to 9 p.m. while Saturday's festivites will go from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Parking Lot C, north of the United Center.

Additional passes for the weekend will be made available to the public starting June 9. For more information, visit chicagoblackhawks.com/fanfest.