Blackhawks convention brings laughs, some insight regarding Daniel Carcillo’s addition

To some extent, the Chicago Blackhawks’ resurgence was propelled by luck. Their rebuild was sparked by getting the right picks (Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, among others) at the right time while their modernization – like, say, televising home games -was made possible by Bill Wirtz’s passing.

That being said, Blackhawks management deserves credit for navigating the treacherous waters of the post-2010 Stanley Cup salary cap purge without losing too many crucial parts and for taking some clever measures to keep fans engaged. (This is an especially wise path to take since many of those fans are still pretty new to a team that was profoundly inept for quite some time.)

One of their best ideas is running an annual convention for fans to meet up with some of their favorite players. CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers captured the scene during the “Kids Only” press conference, when young Blackhawks fans asked Kane, Toews and Corey Crawford some amusing questions.

The youngster approached the microphone at the Kids Only press conference on Saturday, his question for Patrick Kane.

“How did you really break your wrist?” the child said to roaring laughter.

“What do you mean by that?” said Kane.

Apparently you don’t have to be a grizzled fan or long-time follower of gossip sites to know that Kane has a rather … controversial reputation in the sports world. Speaking of players with controversial reputations, some Blackhawks fans and writers were a bit perplexed by the addition of noted pest Daniel Carcillo.

Chicago GM Stan Bowman gave a functional explanation for the signing while Toews’ answer seemed to focus (perhaps surprisingly) on Carcillo’s potential impact in the locker room.

“Carcillo is one of those guys who is very annoying to play against. But when he’s on your side he keeps the other team on edge,” Bowman said.

“He’s going to make sure they don’t take liberties with our star players. All you have to do is ask (Jonathan) Toews or Kane or (Patrick) Sharp about these kind of players when they’re on your team, and they like that because they like to do their thing and not always be looking over their shoulder at guys coming after them. It’s going to make teams think twice about targeting our stars.”

(snip)

“That’s what we like,” Toews said Friday. “I’ll never say anything bad about our locker room last year, but we wanted to add some of that charisma, personality. A noisy locker room is always better than the opposite.”

It might be a bit surprising to see Toews praise the merits of known troublemaker Carcillo for his locker room habits, but maybe this group can keep him in line. Then again, maybe Carcillo will play nice simply because he’s on a one-year contract and needs to justify his existence as an NHL player.

Video: Getzlaf, Perry, Kesler lose cool in scuffle with Kassian, Oilers

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In the first round, Zack Kassian reminded the hockey world why he came into the league with considerable hype as a first-rounder, as he scored some big goals for the Edmonton Oilers.

Of course, there’s a reason why Kassian has 522 penalty minutes in 313 career regular-season games. He can be a nasty presence who straddles the line.

He did as much late in Game 1, getting into it with Ryan Kesler, and then things really got out of hand. Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and others were involved in “histrionics.”

(Who wants to start a Patreon to find out what Getzlaf and Andrej Sekera were saying to each other, by the way?)

It looks like the players involved were only whistled for roughing minors rather than fighting majors. This caps a tough night for Anaheim, who lost 5-3 and saw Kevin Bieksa suffer a troubling lower-body injury.

King Leon: Draisaitl collects four points vs. Ducks to give Oilers a Game 1 win

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So far, the Edmonton Oilers had been showing that they can win tight, low-scoring playoff games. And then the third period of Game 1 against the Anaheim Ducks happened.

The two teams entered the final frame tied 1-1, with smaller breaks and bounces being the story. Then just about everything happened in the third, with Leon Draisaitl guiding the Oilers to a 5-3 win to take a 1-0 series lead.

Draisaitl ended up with a goal and three assists, extending his point streak to three games (seven points during that span).

He wasn’t the only Oilers player to raise some eyebrows, and actually, the other two starring members were a lot more surprising. Mark Letestu seemed to make the early difference with two power-play goals, while low-scoring defenseman Adam Larsson found the net twice, including on the game-winner.

Phew, that’s a lot to absorb, right? This video captures the wildest scoring stretch of that period, even if there would be more:

While Connor McDavid hasn’t been bad, he’s been quiet – by his lofty standards – so far in the Oilers’ run, and that was mostly true on Wednesday. He ended up with a mere secondary assist in this one,

Yet, that might just be part of the good news for the Oilers. They advanced after McDavid had spotty series against the Sharks, and they just gave the Ducks their first postseason loss of 2017 with Draisaitl and others stealing the headlines.

Things got nasty at the end of this game, with key Ducks such as Ryan Getzlaf being prominently involved. Such moments make it clear that Anaheim isn’t likely to bow out of this one easily (and perhaps not gracefully?) but that should only make for a captivating Game 2.

That Game 2 airs Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN; you can watch online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.

Keep an eye on Oilers’ Slepyshev (the Ducks certainly should)

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The breaks and breakaways frequently went the Edmonton Oilers’ way as they eliminated the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of their first-round series. Those results have been more of a mixed bag for Edmonton against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1 tonight, though.

Anton Slepyshev is a great example of those ups and downs.

In Game 6 against the Sharks, Slepyshev used his speed to score a breakaway tally that ended up being the game-winner. (See here for those friendly breakaways.)

Slepyshev’s been burning the Ducks with his speed on Wednesday, but the Oilers have been burned in the process. For one thing, John Gibson turned aside this big chance shortly after Ryan Getzlaf gave Anaheim a 1-0 lead:

Later on in that same second period, Slepyshev got a step on the Ducks defense again. This time, he didn’t just fail to score; he took a goalie interference penalty for bumping Gibson.

With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins being among those hitting posts, it might feel like it’s all against the Oilers this time around, but crossbars/postsanother theme from Edmonton’s Game 6 win vs. San Jose – have more or less balanced out.

And, one break really went Edmonton’s way: a Ducks defender broke his stick on the Oilers’ 5-on-3 opportunity, opening the door for a crucial Mark Letestu goal:

The end result is a 1-1 tie, but give the Oilers credit for not getting rattled. If Slepyshev can keep up his efforts, his speed could be a factor in a series that looks like it could be a real tug-o-war.

Jake Allen takes blame for Predators’ game-winner vs. Blues

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Let’s be honest: the St. Louis Blues owe a lot to Jake Allen‘s work against the Minnesota Wild in that first-round series.

He probably bought himself a significant amount of goodwill for that outstanding work, but Allen isn’t resting on his laurels. He admitted that “a little mistake by me cost” the Blues the 4-3 decision against the Predators, leaving St. Louis down 1-0 to Nashville.

The goal in question was Vernon Fiddler‘s unlikely 4-3 tally, which came after an unsuccessful poke check attempt by Allen:

Now, to be fair, that wasn’t even the only failed poke check that turned into a goal, as Pekka Rinne also got beat after making such an attempt:

Then again, Allen is wise to score points with teammates for taking the blame. As far as his team, head coach Mike Yeo believes that it was the second period that really made the difference.

Regardless, Allen and the Blues hope to carry over the momentum from their third-period dominance in Game 1 to Game 2 to tie the series 1-1.

That contest airs on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Friday. (You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; here’s the livestream link.)