Connor Murphy

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NHL on NBCSN: Blackhawks begin homestand vs. Red Wings

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Sunday’s matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

If the Blackhawks and Red Wings continue on their current paths, their playoff droughts will continue.

The Red Wings (10-29-3) merely hope to avoid making dubious history. The Blackhawks, though? With 42 points in as many games played, the 18-18-6 Blackhawks aim to keep slim hopes alive.

Blackhawks begin homestand vs. Red Wings coming off a solid trip

Chicago entered 2020 winning five of their last seven games. Even considering a 7-5 loss to the Canucks that involved a squandered lead, the Blackhawks felt good taking two wins from a three-game road trip. That stretch looks better when you consider the obstacles Chicago faced.

“There’s a lot of positives to take,” Defenseman Connor Murphy said, via the Blackhawks’ website. “I think just the way guys came together and played in three different time zones, a lot of travel and seemed to string periods together and show that we can be a team to put a big winning streak together. I think we really wanted to do that tonight, but we know in order to be that team that we think we can be, we have to string it together at some point and we have a good opportunity going home to do that.”

The Blackhawks face an opportunity to grind their way up the standings a bit with a four-game homestand. With that in mind, they can’t take dour Detroit lightly.

Blackhawks have plenty of room for improvement

Broadly speaking, Chicago maintains recent patterns. The Blackhawks can generate offense, but give up even more going the other way. They might need to outscore their problems to even greater degree with Robin Lehner banged up, as Lehner bailed Chicago out on plenty of nights.

As Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said, “the focus will continue to be on defending.”

Improving on defense is an understandable goal, but gains may only be marginal. The Blackhawks might actually want to focus on their power play. Despite boasting Patrick Kane (on another 100+ point pace) and Alex DeBrincat, the Blackhawks have only converted on 15.7 percent of their power-play opportunities, a bottom-10 rate.

Maybe the Blackhawks can wake up their man advantage against a struggling team like the Red Wings?

One way or another, Chicago needs to take games like these if they want to keep the door open for a playoff push.

Chris Cuthbert will handle play-by-play duties alongside Pierre McGuire at United Center in Chicago, Ill.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Blackhawks’ Murphy suffers gruesome injury after elbow to face

NBC Sports Chicago
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If you’re prone to fainting at the sign of blood, this one’s not for you.

Just a fair warning.

OK?

OK.

Connor Murphy of the Chicago Blackhawks got drilled in the head with an elbow from Dallas Stars forward Tyler Pitlick, who seemed to try to gain positioning on a 2-on-1 attempt by the Stars. Murphy, trying to take away the option for Stars defenseman Miko Heiskanen, who ended up taking the shot, got his head popped back from the elbow before collapsing to the ice.

Here’s the hit,  and the bloody aftermath. It’s ugly.

Hard to say if the elbow itself was malicious, but at game speed, it looked brutal regardless. There was no penalty called on the play.

The Blackhawks won their second straight game 5-2.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Stars re-sign towering d-man Oleksiak: one year, $875,000

Dallas has re-upped with one of the largest players in the league — 6-foot-7, 250-pound rearguard Jamie Oleksiak.

Oleksiak, 22, agreed to a one-year contract extension on Thursday, the club announced. The deal comes after Oleksiak split time between Dallas and AHL Texas last year, scoring eight points in 36 games for the Stars.

The club’s first-round pick (14th overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Oleksiak took a one-year pact for $875,000 (per the Dallas Morning News), opting for less term and slightly less money than fellow Stars d-men Patrik Nemeth and Jyrki Jokipakka took. In June, that pair signed matching two-year, $1.8 million deals with average annual cap hits of $900,000.

Though he’s still relatively young, Oleksiak is heading into something of a “prove it” campaign. He was picked ahead of some other noteworthy d-men in ’11 — like Nathan Beaulieu, Connor Murphy and Oscar Klefbom — and all three of them have played more games at the NHL level than Oleksiak.

 

Coyotes will unveil new jerseys for 2015-16 campaign

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In recent years the Arizona Coyotes have changed their name, ownership, and starting next season they’ll have an updated look too.

The Coyotes announced that they will have new home and away jerseys for the 2015-16 campaign. Those will be unveiled on June 26 during their draft party at Gila River Arena. The event will take place from 3-7 p.m. PT, but the unveiling itself will start around 3:30 and is expected to run for a half an hour.

Brendan Perlini, Max Domi, Connor Murphy, and Christian Dvorak will be in attendance to show the new uniforms.

The new uniforms are expected to be a major change as opposed to the tweaks they’ve done since their last big alteration in 2003, but the team’s primary logo will stay the same, according to the Arizona Republic.

Arizona controls the third overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft as well as Chicago’s first selection.

Faulk, Gardiner highlight US preliminary Worlds roster

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Unlike Team Canada, the United States’ preliminary roster for the for the 2015 World Hockey Championships doesn’t feature star power up front, but the team’s defense is shaping up nicely.

Jake Gardiner, Justin Faulk, and Torey Krug were among the 15 players on USA Hockey’s initial list. The American squad will also contain a fair amount of NCAA talent, including Hobey Baker finalist Mike Reilly. Meanwhile, Mark Arcobello will play for his fifth team since the start of the 2014-15 campaign.

Here is Team USA’s roster so far:

Goal: Alex Lyon

Defense: Faulk, Gardiner, Krug, John Moore, Connor Murphy, Reilly

Forwards: Arcobello, Matt Hendricks, Dylan Larkin, Trevor Lewis, Jeremy Morin, Steve Moses, Dan Sexton, Ben Smith

The tournament will run from May 1-17.