What should you expect as Blackhawks open camp? We've got some answers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, left, celebrates with goalie Corey Crawford after the Blackhawks defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 on March 5 earlier this season. Can Crawford help lead the Hawks to a series win over the Oilers?

    Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, left, celebrates with goalie Corey Crawford after the Blackhawks defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 on March 5 earlier this season. Can Crawford help lead the Hawks to a series win over the Oilers? Associated Press

 
 
Updated 7/13/2020 5:35 AM

Well, here we go.

Blackhawks Training Camp, Part II is about to get underway at Fifth Third Arena on Monday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It's going to be different. Weird. Unique. Bizarre.

On the ice, however, if figures to look like any other two-week stretch of practices when the Hawks are ramping up for the grind of an 82-game season.

Of course, this time they are ramping up for a best-of-five play-in series against Edmonton. Game 1 is scheduled for August 1 in Edmonton.

So what will things look like and what should we be keeping an eye on? Let's take a look:

• First off, no fans will be allowed. Media members will be assigned a seat, which they are asked not to move from. Masks must be worn at all times.

• There will be livestreaming of practices, although it's not known at this point if every practice will be available.

• All interviews will be done via Zoom. Coach Jeremy Colliton will be available every day, as will select players. General manager Stan Bowman will answer questions Monday.

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• The Hawks, who have to be considered underdogs against an incredibly talented Oilers team, do have one big advantage in goaltender Corey Crawford. Not only has Crawford backstopped the Hawks to a pair of Stanley Cup titles, but he was also playing some awfully good hockey once the calendar flipped to 2020.

Crawford was 10-9-1 with a .928 save percentage and 2.35 goals-against average in his last 20 appearances. One of those victories came against Edmonton on March 5 when the Hawks prevailed 4-3 thanks in large part to a pair of Alex DeBrincat goals.

• Speaking of DeBrincat, he needs to find his scoring touch again. One season after pumping in 41 goals, DeBrincat had just 18 in 70 games.

• Will Dominik Kubalik pick up where he left off? The dynamic rookie blew away all expectations by scoring 30 times in 68 games while averaging less than 14 minutes and playing mostly on the second power-play unit. If his explosive shot is on target, it could spell trouble for the Oilers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

• Will this time off help Kirby Dach and defenseman Adam Boqvist understand what it takes to be more well-rounded players? Or will the bright lights of playoff hockey be too much for them? (The guess here is they'll be fine). Dach may be able to frustrate the Oilers with his long reach by keeping pucks alive in the offensive zone and poking them loose while backchecking.

• Who will be the starting six defensemen? Could Brent Seabrook actually return and make the Hawks better? Or is this the kind of high-octane matchup that would expose him after such a long layoff?

• Finally, is it truly possible that Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Crawford and Co. could vanquish Edmonton and jump into the Round of 16?

Absolutely. Five-game series are a completely different animal than seven-gamers, and with nothing to lose the Hawks may just get it done.

But should fans want that to happen? After all, the odds of them winning the Stanley Cup are awfully thin. The Hawks could desperately use another impact player, one that figures to come with a top-10 draft pick.

And imagine if they actually won the lottery, which would land them forward Alexis Lafreniere, a can't-miss star in the making.

So much to think about. So much to ponder.

And the answers are -- finally -- right around the corner.

Wirtz statement:

Right up until the end, Chicago was in the running to be one of two hub cities in which the Stanley Cup playoffs would take place. Alas, the NHL chose Edmonton and Toronto, but the effort put forth by the Blackhawks and Chicago city officials was not lost on Interim President Danny Wirtz.

Wirtz released a statement Friday evening that thanked Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Governor J.B. Pritzker, the United Center staff, McCormick Place leadership, the Chicago Sports Commission and Choose Chicagoand.

"Although we are disappointed the bid wasn't selected, it was not for lack of effort," Wirtz said. "The teamwork to build our proposal was a true testament to the city and state's commitment and creativity and set the bar for other cities to follow."

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