Connor Murphy bringing defense-first game to Blackhawks

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Chicago Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford (50) gives up a goal to Arizona Coyotes’ Connor Murphy as Coyotes’ Corey Crawford (50) and Blackhawks’ Duncan Keith (2) watch during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. The Blackhawks defeated the Coyotes 7-5. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) ORG XMIT: PNJ115

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has seen a lot of Connor Murphy during his time with USA Hockey. Now, Bowman will watch a lot more of him in Chicago.

Murphy, 24, who was acquired from the Coyotes with Laurent Dauphin for Niklas Hjalmarsson, will be expected to shoulder a heavy load on the blue line. Last season, he had two goals and 15 assists in 77 games and was challenged while playing for one of the league’s worst teams.

Now with the Hawks, Murphy will play his defense-first style.

“I’m pretty tall, so I feel like I can cover some ice that way,” said the 6-3 Murphy. “I’ve worked on my mobility a little more and trying to be more of a mobile, good-skating [defenseman]. So I try to help out by moving the puck up and playing a simple and good defending game.”

Murphy has played for Team USA at the last four World Championships and was the captain of this year’s squad.

“He has a lot of character, leadership,” said Bowman, who has been active in the USA program. “He’s very articulate and a very engaging person. His hockey game is something we don’t have a lot of like him.”

Backup for Crawford?

The Hawks might have found a backup for goalie Corey Crawford.

Anton Forsberg, who was acquired in a deal with the Blue Jackets, is 1-8-0 lifetime and has a 4.02 goals-against average in 10 career games. But Bowman is high on Forsberg, who helped lead the Lake Erie Monsters to the 2016 AHL championship.

“I think we’ve obviously got a tremendous number-one goalie in Crawford, and Corey’s going to have the lion’s share of the work,” Bowman said, “but I think it’s time for Anton to get a chance to be that number two.”

Follow me on Twitter @BrianSandalow.


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