Strong finishes becoming Blackhawks signature

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Strong finishes becoming Blackhawks signature

CALGARY, Alberta Remember last season when the Blackhawks struggled in third periods, too often squandering one-goal leads and coming up empty?

Yeah, so do the Blackhawks. They werent too fond of losing slim leads and point opportunities. So this season, and especially in recent games, the Blackhawks have been turning up the offense in the third period.

The Blackhawks are playing more from start to finish this season, especially the finish part. Counting their three goals against Vancouver on Wednesday night, the Blackhawks have now outscored opponents 22-12 in third periods.

Not bad for a team that hung onto leads by their fingernails last season. So whats been the difference this season? The personnel changes? A more confident attitude?

I think its probably a combination of those things, defenseman Duncan Keith said. Weve got depth now, and it gets everybody into the game, everybodys playing. A (good) start to this season was important and something we stressed; and I just think were committed to winning and doing what it takes.

Depth, as well as a few recent line tweaks, has helped plenty. The Blackhawks arent just depending on one line to score for them. Several lines have scored, as have several defensemen.

And theres balance. The whole four-lines-rolling mantra that coach Joel Quenneville preaches has been put into practice a lot lately, which means everyones staying fresher through 60 minutes.

More energy in the third period means more finish.

The Blackhawks endings have also compensated for some slow beginnings. They werent thrilled with the way they came out against the Canucks, who had more jump than they did in the first period. But by the end it was no contest.

We always feel like we can play better, and we seem to be getting better as the game goes on and on. You saw that last night, too. They took it to us early, and we came back roaring after that, Patrick Kane said. It seems like we keep getting better.

Viktor Stalberg said veterans have also spoken up when they feel the Blackhawks have needed to close out strong.

There have been a few occasions where we may not have played the way we wanted to in first two periods and guys like Johnny (Toews) and Jamal (Mayers) say, We have a chance here, thats not all weve got. So lets go prove it to ourselves, Stalberg said. We want to keep getting better and we are and its a good sign for our hockey club.

The Blackhawks are taking advantage of their third periods this season. They know the dangers of just holding on or just doing enough late in games. They want to go into the later part of this season with a stronger playoff position. Their late-game production should help toward that cause.

When the games are on the line were doing the right things, Quenneville said. Were more predictable in our team play. Were thinking more on the defensive side of things, which usually enhances offensive side. If were committed to that, well find a way to get it done.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Vinnie Hinostroza talks rookie season and new wrinkle to offseason training

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Vinnie Hinostroza talks rookie season and new wrinkle to offseason training

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, forward Vinnie Hinostroza joins Pat Boyle and evaluates his rookie season, tells us how he has added MMA and Ju-jitsu to his offseason training and is he going to room with Ryan Hartman next season?

Plus, Tracey Myers joins Pat to discuss Patrick Kane’s first interview this offseason, the latest on the Blackhawks coaching moves and tournament fall-out for Artemi Panarin, Marcus Kruger and Alex DeBrincat.

Listen to the latest episode of the Hawks Talk Podcast below.

In wake of first-round playoff sweep, Patrick Kane talks about the Blackhawks' 'reality check'

In wake of first-round playoff sweep, Patrick Kane talks about the Blackhawks' 'reality check'

It’s been just over a month since the Blackhawks were eliminated from the playoffs in swift fashion. And as Patrick Kane told WGN Radio on Tuesday morning, the bitter taste hasn’t gone away.

“I think a lot of us didn’t figure we’d be in the situation we’re in right now,” Kane told Steve Cochran and Dave Eanet on Tuesday. “All of us can work this offseason to get better. It’s a long time to wait to get back to that opportunity to play in the playoffs again, so we’ll have a sour taste in our mouth for a while.”

The Nashville Predators, who made quick work of the Blackhawks in the first round, eliminated the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night to earn the first Stanley Cup Final appearance in franchise history. Kane told WGN he’s been watching the playoffs and said Nashville “has a pretty good system going.”

“They come at you, they play aggressive. I don’t think any of us would be a big fan of the way they defend in the neutral zone, just sitting back and playing that 1-3-1. But at the same time they come at you,” said Kane, who added that the Blackhawks “weren’t even close in that (first-round) series.”

“Maybe we had a chance in Game 3 when we were up 2-0, but it was a clean sweep and that’s probably how it should’ve been,” he said. “So now it’s time to regroup.”

When the Blackhawks had their wrap-up media session on April 22, general manager Stan Bowman was asked if some players, having won three Stanley Cups since 2010, had lost some of the hunger. Bowman didn’t buy that and neither did Kane.

“Four sounds a lot better than three, right?” he said. “It’s a long time away and a lot of work, but sometimes you go through those situations and you realize you won three Cups and it’s almost like you’re going to be there again. That’s where the reality check is for us now, realizing how hard it is to get back in that situation, how hard it is to win a Cup or go deep in this league. There’s a lot of work to be done.”