Shootouts figure to be key factor for Blackhawks

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville predicted this would happen.

There were three 3-point games in the Central Division through the opening weekend of the NHL season, bringing home what Quenneville said last week about the importance of shootouts in this shortened season.

“At the end of the year it’s definitely going to make a difference,” Quenneville said. “Where you’re standing and where you’re going to finish is going to be based on how effective you are in shootouts. It’s something that will definitely be a differential when it’s all said and done.”

Quenneville said the Hawks have placed an emphasis on shootouts in practice, but St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has not.

“Everybody says when you don’t win in shootouts, you don’t practice them enough, but nobody asks the players,” Hitchcock said. “Some players don’t want to practice. They don’t want people to see what they do. They feel comfortable if their moves are fresh.

“They feel like they want to be creative (but) they don’t want anybody to see what they do. Some guys just feel, ‘If I’m in a groove, I don’t want to practice it.’

“The only way you can be effective in a shootout is to put it in a game situation. We found out things in the shootout when we had two scrimmages in front of 10,000 people. We found out this guy can do it under pressure and ‘Whoa, this guy can do it in practice but kind of freezes up.’”

Blues learning:The Blues want to get where the Hawks have been.Despite finishing with 109 points last season and winning the Central Division going away, the Blues were swept out of the second round by Los Angeles.#147;There#146;s a difference between playing to your competition and playing through it,#148; Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. #147;We#146;re trying to learn how to play through things. I think championship teams play through the competition.#147;With Chicago, I#146;ve seen that for two or three years now how they know how to play through it. I think until you get deep, whether it#146;s conference finals, Cup final or Cup, you don#146;t learn those lessons. We#146;re trying to learn that on the go here to see if we can#146;t get to the next level.#148;Old-school rookie:Blues rookie forward Vladimir Tarasenko has impressed Ken Hitchcock so far with his demeanor.#147;Skill-wise who knows where he lands because he#146;s a good player right now,#148; Hitchcock said. #147;Personality-wise and kid-wise, he#146;s tremendous. He#146;s a throwback. He#146;s an old-school throwback. It#146;s just a pleasure to be around him. He#146;s so darn sincere, and he respects the veteran players the way you#146;d like young people to. I#146;m really impressed.#148;Home sweet home:Because of the lockout and a first-round playoff exit, it was nine months between games at the United Center for the Blackhawks. Despite the lengthy lockout, the 191st consecutive sellout crowd greeted the players.#147;Our fans are the best,#148; defenseman Duncan Keith said. #147;It just shows the passion they have for the Blackhawks and the game of hockey. It#146;s an Original Six team, and there are a lot of Blackhawks fans all over the continent, especially here in Chicago.#148;Insurance policy:Monday#146;s trade with Calgary for goalie Henrik Karlsson came two days after Rockford goaltender Carter Hutton was injured in a fight against Grand Rapids.The deal cost the Hawks a seventh-round draft pick in 2013. Karlsson, who was on waivers in Calgary, is 6-feet-6 and 215 pounds.#147;It gives us some depth at that position, and we know the importance of it,#148; Joel Quenneville said. #147;He#146;s a big guy and he#146;s played in some NHL games. He#146;s got some size and experience.#148;Karlsson appeared in nine games with the Flames last season, going 1-4-2 with a .875 save percentage.

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