Stay­ing dis­ci­plined big key vs. Knights

Chicago Sun-Times - - BLACKHAWKS BEAT - Ben Pope

The Hawks have strug­gled greatly in the third pe­riod against the Golden Knights in the first two games of their se­ries. They lost con­trol of Game 1 in the pe­riod, then saw the mo­men­tum turn in the pe­riod en route to an over­time defeat in Game 2.

De­fense­man Slater Koekkoek of­fered a fas­ci­nat­ing — and slightly amus­ing — anal­y­sis Fri­day of why that has hap­pened.

‘‘I was talk­ing to an­other guy on the team [about this],’’ Koekkoek said. ‘‘[The Knights] force you to be so dis­ci­plined through­out the first two pe­ri­ods. We were good last night, play­ing our game.

‘‘Then they make you want to get out of your struc­ture to try to cre­ate of­fense, and that’s where they get you. Once you start cheat­ing on the wrong side or try to cre­ate of­fense, that’s when they cap­i­tal­ize on you.

‘‘That could be why they’re such a good third-pe­riod team.’’

With the Hawks need­ing at least one vic­tory in the back-to-back Games 3 and 4 this week­end to stay alive, they’ll try to avoid the Knights’ temp­ta­tions and stick to their game plan for all 120 min­utes.

But coach Jeremy Col­li­ton said he has ad­vised his play­ers not even to think about Game 4.

‘‘It’s [about] fo­cus­ing on the next shift, fo­cus­ing on what’s right in front of you,’’ Col­li­ton said. ‘‘We’re cer­tainly not go­ing to look ahead to Game 4. It’s our big­gest game right here, and that’s the one we’ve got to fo­cus on. We’ll be ready for puck drop.’’

Bo­qvist likely to re­turn

Rookie de­fense­man Adam Bo­qvist —a sur­pris­ing healthy scratch in Game 2 on Thurs­day — likely will re­turn to the lineup for Game 3, based on Col­li­ton’s com­ments Fri­day.

‘‘He’s a young player, [and] it’s a high level,’’ Col­li­ton said. ‘‘We’re ask­ing a lot out of him. But we think he can bring just his puck plays and his abil­ity to break us out clean . . . . The things he can do on the of­fen­sive [end] just pro­vide a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent di­men­sion.

‘‘He got a rest, and he’ll have the op­por­tu­nity to come back. We’ll fig­ure out the lineup [for Game 3] to­mor­row, but I think he can help us.’’ ✶


De­fense­man Adam Bo­qvist was a healthy scratch in Game 2 but is ex­pected to re­turn for Game 3.

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