Blackhawks

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Wild: Counting on goaltending too much?

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USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Wild: Counting on goaltending too much?

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night:
 
1. The power play is still quiet.

The Blackhawks had two opportunities on Thursday; the first was forgettable while the second generated more chances but still ended with no production. And with that, the Blackhawks’ power play is now 3-for-18 on the season. Hey, a struggling power play is a running theme with this team so this shouldn’t be a total surprise. 
 
2. Counting on goaltending too much again?

It seemed that way for the first half of this one, anyway. The Wild didn’t have many more shots than the Blackhawks but they had better scoring opportunities. Crawford was up to it for most of this one until things got interesting in the third period. 
 
3. John Hayden’s shot.

The Blackhawks fourth liner has been a physical presence since the start of training camp and he’s had a few fights. He had another melee on Thursday night, sparring with Marcus Foligno and landing a huge right to Foligno’s jaw at the end of it.
 
4. Getting a little weary?

The Wild were playing in just their third game of the season on Thursday. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, played their fifth in the last seven days. It’s still early but that’s a lot of hockey in a week.

The Blackhawks did a lot of good things over the past week but after a busy stretch, Friday’s rest day is necessary. 
 
5. The Blackhawks miss Nick Schmaltz (a lot).

This one is becoming more evident with each passing game. The second line certainly could use him; Patrick Kane hasn’t had a point, nor has he had as many opportunities, since Schmaltz suffered his upper-body injury against Columbus.

Quenneville has switched up the bottom three lines looking to spark the offense. But there’s good news on Schmaltz: skated on Thursday morning and the Blackhawks are hoping the center will return on Saturday.

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?