Konroyd's keys for Game 3 of Blackhawks-Wild

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Konroyd's keys for Game 3 of Blackhawks-Wild

1. Continue to protect the lines

The two blue lines and center red lines are more than just for calling offsides and icings. They are a great gauge for defensemen when they don’t have the puck. Try not to back off the offensive blue line too quickly and allow easy breakouts for the other team. Force the attackers before they hit the center red line so that they make a bad pass or ice the puck. And finally, make a stand at your own blue line so that you are not giving up the zone and allowing the opposition to set up. The Blackhawks defensemen have done a masterful job in this respect as they have put a lot of pressure on the puck carrier. Numerous times In Game 2 either Duncan Keith, Johnny Oduya, Niklas Hjalmarsson or Brent Seabrook were forcing the issue at these lines and forcing the Wild into turnovers or slowing down their rush attack. Keep being aggressive at these three lines.

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2. Cover your prime real estate

The Blackhawks have done a great job of protecting the front of their own net and also Corey Crawford. The Wild are know as a team that attacks with speed, gets pucks deep, gets them back, and goes to the front of the net with their forwards and defensemen involved. That has not really happened in this series, aside from 10 minutes in the second period of Game 1. Not only have the Hawks been slowing down the Wild as a result of Key 1, they have been very quick to counter, getting back on dump-ins and starting the other way with perfect passes. The fact that the Hawks forwards are coming back hard and very deep in their own end has really helped this process. Minnesota will make a deliberate push to get some of their bigger bodies (Mikko Koivu, Thomas Vanek, Charlie Coyle) going hard to the blue paint.  Make sure there is a push back.

3. Keep it simple

The Wild are in a pretty precarious position right now. They are charged with the task of having to win four of their next five games against the Hawks in order to advance to the next round. Their best players have not been their best players, and there will be a huge push by their stars to be difference makers. Ryan Suter is a minus-13 in his 13 postseason games against Chicago during the last two-plus years. Koivu, their team captain, is a minus-12 with just two assists during the same time. These guys, among others, will be pressing and the best way to take advantage of that is to play a simple, disciplined game. This is a lot easier to do on the road, and we have seen Chicago play this patient style with great success in the first two games of this series.  

Wake-up Call: Big Blackhawks deals on draft day; What to make of the Bulls rebuild?; Buehrle back in town; 'Up and down' Cubs

Wake-up Call: Big Blackhawks deals on draft day; What to make of the Bulls rebuild?; Buehrle back in town; 'Up and down' Cubs

Here are some of the top stories from a busy Friday in Chicago sports:

Saad Day: Blackhawks deal Artemi Panarin for familiar face

Blackhawks pull off stunner, trade Niklas Hjalmarsson to Coyotes

Bulls have emerged from a ball of confusion to parts unknown

Mark Buehrle confirms 'that' rumor from Game 3 of the 2005 World Series

This is the identity of the 2017 Cubs so far: 'Up and down, up and down'

Preview: Mark Buehrle Day on CSN

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Blackhawks trade back, select Henri Jokiharju at No. 29

Together again: Toews, Saad expect chemistry to return quickly

Together again: Toews, Saad expect chemistry to return quickly

Together again: Toews, Saad expect chemistry to return quickly

Brandon Saad talked to plenty of people after he was traded back to the Blackhawks. Some were now ex-teammates from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Others, soon-to-be-teammates again from the Blackhawks.

One of the first people he talked to on Friday? Jonathan Toews.

“He’s someone I talked to shortly after it happened. He’s a guy I’ve always kept in touch with, great friend,” Saad said. “To be reunited, getting that chance to play with him again, he’s an incredible player and his resume speaks for itself. I look forward to trying to rekindle that.”

The two didn’t lose touch the past two years. Now that they’ll be reunited on the ice, they hope they didn’t lose the chemistry either. Saad and Toews formed a great combination a few years ago, a steadiness that’s been missing from the top line, especially at left wing, ever since. With Saad’s return, however, the Blackhawks are looking to get that top line consistent again.

[MORE: Blackhawks trade back, select Henri Jokiharju at No. 29

Toews was at the NHL Draft on Friday night, announcing the Blackhawks’ first-round pick with Patrick Kane. The thought of getting Saad back on his left wing was appealing.

“Well there’s no doubt getting an old teammate, an old friend back, another guy who shared that same bond, friendship and having the experience of winning a Cup together with Saader. I guess there’s some reconciliation because you know what you’re getting,” Toews said. “You know what type of guy he is and how he’s going to fit into the locker room and what he’s going to bring.”

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said via conference call today that, while Toews and Saad had great chemistry the first time around, Saad could fit with others. It all depends on what works best.

“That’s up to Joel [Quenneville] on where he wants to use him,” Bowman said. “No doubt they had tremendous chemistry; he found a home on Jonathan’s left wing. But the one thing I’m trying to stress to everyone, even internally, is we don’t want to look backward and replicate some old formula. He’s had great success with Jonathan and if they go back to that, great.”

Toews and Saad found their niche together pretty quickly the first time around. It’s only been two years since Saad departed, so finding that chemistry again shouldn’t take long at all.

“I don’t think so,” Toews said of chemistry taking long to rekindle. “You play at that caliber you just worry about your own game. Go out there and have fun. be prepared, be ready to roll and it shouldn’t take long for things to happen out there.”