Blackhawks

As Eddie Olczyk battles, Hockey Fights Cancer hits home for Blackhawks

As Eddie Olczyk battles, Hockey Fights Cancer hits home for Blackhawks

There are times when moments hit you harder than normal. For the Blackhawks, given color analyst Eddie Olczyk’s battle with colon cancer, hosting Hockey Fights Cancer on Monday night had that much more significance.

Olczyk was part of the Blackhawks’ Hockey Fights Cancer pregame ceremony on Monday, dropping the ceremonial puck with 9-year-old Mount Prospect native Lauren Graver, who is battling rhabdomyosarcoma (a rare muscle cancer). Olczyk had his latest round of chemotherapy on Monday morning, which includes going home with a portable pump for additional chemotherapy over 48 hours.

For the Blackhawks, Olczyk’s fight has been inspiring.

“Obviously it’s tough news when you hear that about Edzo but it seems like he’s been doing good and been fighting it really hard,” Patrick Kane said. “It’s always good to see him around the rink. We know he’s battling and some days might be tougher than others, but he seems to show up and be around the rink and talk hockey with the guys. So it’s fun to see him around and he’s a great man. Obviously we wish him the best, too.”

Olczyk was diagnosed with colon cancer in August. He’s made periodic analyst appearances this season, beginning with the Blackhawks’ game at St. Louis on Oct. 18. His latest game was Wednesday when the Blackhawks traveled to Tampa.

“We see him on the road, we’ve seen him here. It’s a great night around the league to raise awareness for cancer and I’ve been able to talk to him a little bit,” Ryan Hartman said. “He looks great. He’s been able to broadcast a lot more games than I thought he was going to be able to and it’s good to see him around.”

Coach Joel Quenneville, speaking of the various Hockey Fights Cancer nights around the league, said, “it’s been great moments throughout the month, great reflecting on who it’s touched and the people you’re familiar with who are dealing with it. I think immediately of Edzo. Every game, in each market, everyone has their people. The NHL does a great job of making sure that these type of situations, the awareness and support is there.”

Patrick Kane hits milestone, but Blackhawks get blown out by Islanders

Patrick Kane hits milestone, but Blackhawks get blown out by Islanders

Probably not the way the Blackhawks wanted to start their second half of the season.

After a five-day break, the Blackhawks suffered a brutal 7-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday night at the United Center. This coming after a 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on home ice last Sunday.

"It was a game we had to win," Quenneville said after Saturday's loss. "Disappointing in a lot of ways."

The Blackhawks needed both goaltenders to get through 60 minutes. Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass combined for 39 saves on 46 shots.

On the offensive side of things, Patrick Kane hit a milestone.

The 29-year-old had two goals and an assist and recorded his 800th career point, becoming the fifth player in franchise history to reach 800 points.

The Blackhawks are now 22-18-6 on the season with 50 points and rank last in the Central Division, five points behind the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild.

The Blackhawks' schedule doesn't get any easier when the Tampa Bay Lightning — the league-leader in points — come to town on Monday.

See what Quenneville and Kane had to say about Saturday's loss in the video above.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return to action against Islanders

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return to action against Islanders

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the New York Islanders tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Erik Gustafsson's season debut.

The Blackhawks recalled one of their top defensive prospects on Jan. 9 but haven't been able to get him some game action yet. All signs point to that changing tonight.

He skated on a pairing with Brent Seabrook during Friday's practice, and was even placed on the second power play unit during special teams drills. Joel Quenneville was excited about the possibility of finally getting Gustafsson into the lineup.

"Good option, good opportunity," Quenneville said. "We’re not for sure but certainly he’s been around, he’s eager to go. I look forward to seeing what he can do."

2. Anthony Duclair's promotion.

He hasn't been in Chicago for very long but Duclair is quickly working his way up the lineup. The newly-acquired Blackhawk registered an assist in his team debut last Friday in a 2-1 victory over Winnipeg, and was put on a power play unit as well.

On Friday, Duclair was promoted to the top line with Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews and continued getting reps on the second power-play unit. Let's see if the 22-year-old can take advantage of that opportunity in a top-six role.

3. Mathew Barzal.

Three rookies will be named finalists for the Calder Trophy at the end of the season. Barzal is a lock to be one of them.

He not only leads all rookies with 48 points, but he ranks 15th in the entire league in the scoring race and is the only first-year player averaging at least a point per game. 

The 20-year-old center has been sensational and he already has two five-point games in his young professional career. To put that into perspective, Patrick Kane recorded his first NHL five-point effort two weeks ago against the Ottawa Senators.