3 Chicago Blackhawks in the spotlight: Adam Boqvist, Dominik Kubalik and Calvin de Haan discuss their early-season challenges

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Phil Thompson, Chicago Tribune
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Call them the challenges within the overall challenge.

The Chicago Blackhawks are taking the long view at building a winner, and within that larger mission, several players have personal stakes this season.

Whether they’re a young player or a veteran, questions remain about how they’ll fit in the long-term picture — if at all.

Three of those Hawks talked about those situations.

Adam Boqvist

Hawks coaches and management want Boqvist to round out his game this season, especially on the defensive side.

They’ve paired the defenseman with Nikita Zadorov, hoping the big blue-liner will make opponents think twice about targeting the smaller Boqvist and that Boqvist’s offense would balance well with Zadorov — that they’re offensive and defensive mindsets will rub off on each other.

Like many Hawks, Boqvist struggled in defensive coverage in the season opener Wednesday in Tampa, Fla., such as when he realized he was out of position too late to stop Brayden Point from scoring from the slot to put the Lightning up 5-0.

“To be a first game it wasn’t too bad,” Boqvist said. “But obviously I want to create more offense, make some better plays on the power play, to be close to my guy in the D-zone quicker and join the rush and be a threat more. … It’s going to take a little time here.”

It’s not all on Boqvist. Zadorov bears responsibility too.

“I can do better, especially with Boqie,” Zadorov said Friday. “I don’t think we were on our game, for sure.

“Sometimes it was a little sloppy, sometimes there was miscommunication out there,” he said, adding they reviewed video and talked about it. “When the time goes, game by game, we’re only going to get better.”

Coach Jeremy Colliton agreed.

“Zadorov missed a big part of the short camp that we had (while unfit to participate),” Colliton said. “So it’s only been a couple practices and early on we didn’t play much five on five.

“But we like the two together. Now we have one game’s worth of situations to look at. You’re looking for common reads. You want both guys to making the same read at the same time.

“The more guys they play in situations together the better they’ll be.”

Dominik Kubalik

There’s little reason to believe Kubalik can’t replicate his 46-point season, which included 30 goals, yet the forward played only 11 minutes, 30 seconds in the opener.

Kubalik said his ice time didn’t feel brief but “you want to play as much as you can, that’s for sure. I want to be out there in every single situation. I just need to be ready for (Friday), and hopefully it’s going to be better.”

Colliton brushed off the notion that Kubalik’s ice time was a reflection on his performance. He didn’t take a shot and played 40 seconds on the power play.

“It’s not like he didn’t play,” Colliton said. “The five-on-five ice time was spread pretty evenly among the group. The disparity was probably in special teams. Obviously if guys show they’re really going, they’ll play a little more. I’ve got no problem with Kuby.”

The Lightning also were blowing out the Hawks, so there was little incentive to move Kubalik around to get him more opportunities, especially as he’s trying to build chemistry with new linemates Pius Suter and Brandon Pirri.

“At some point, it’s four-nothing, five-nothing, we’re trying to see what we have and trying to see what changes we might want to make and let things play out a little bit,” Colliton said.

Training camp lasted only about a week and a half, “so you don’t really have the time to get used to each other and get it going right away,” Kubalik said. “So I feel it was the first game, we tried to do the best we can.”

Calvin de Haan

De Haan came into the season healthy, but he had three shoulder surgeries over the previous three years. Asked about his shoulders Thursday, there was a tinge of seriousness in de Haan’s voice when he joked, “Well, they’re still in their sockets, so that’s all that matters.”

De Haan said he was sort of joking when, following a scrimmage, he said the Hawks’ crop of young defensemen were coming for his job. There was more than a tinge of seriousness in those words.

“I’m not a young guy anymore,” said de Haan, who turns 30 in May. “It’s something I think about, but at the same time you’ve just got to be yourself and keep doing what you do best.

“From a team standpoint, you’ve got to be a good teammate and try to help these young lads along, and it’s just part of the process.”