Blackhawks

Recipe to fix broken Blackhawks must come from within

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AP

Recipe to fix broken Blackhawks must come from within

For one brief 20-minute segment, the Blackhawks tapped back into their old ways, scoring at will and looking dominant on home ice en route to a 4-2 edge after the first period. Then the second period began and the Blackhawks regressed, falling into the bad habits that have plagued them this season.

“That's a tough lead to give up, especially to get no points and give up seven goals against,” Patrick Kane said. “Obviously a disappointing last couple periods.

“I don't know if we thought it was going to be easy the rest of the night or what.”

It wasn’t that long ago that the Blackhawks, with the combination of talent, work ethic and trust in each other, made it look easy. They were a stoic group, unruffled in the face of any issue that came up on the ice. Losing? They’d find a way to come back. Leading? They held onto the edge. When one teammate was struggling, someone else was there to pick up the slack. You’re not seeing much of that right now. When something goes wrong it usually snowballs, the confidence wanes and in the case of Sunday night, a seemingly strong 4-1 lead evaporates and turns into a 7-5 victory for a New Jersey Devils team that wasn’t messing around.

The last time the Blackhawks looked confident and in control from start to finish was their second game of the season against the Columbus Blue Jackets, a 5-1 victory.

“We shouldn’t think it’s easy. It’s a tough league now. You just have to look at the standings. Everyone is very close, points are valuable every night,” Patrick Sharp said. “I know what [Kane] is saying: sometimes when a lot of goals are going in like that it changes the dynamic of the game. But we have a team that’s been around long enough to know certain situations and it’s tough to give that many up.”

As much as this is not a happy synopsis this is also not a sky-is-falling diatribe. The Blackhawks are not lacking in talent; they’re lacking in finish. Since you have the former you can figure out a way to get the latter. But the Blackhawks need to start turning the corner now and to do that they have to remember what worked for them the past few successful seasons. Be strong from start to finish, trust the guy next to you will do his job and focus on doing the same yourself. Everyone, from the youngest to most veteran, has to do more.

There’s not one magic move or decision that’s going to change the Blackhawks’ fortunes right now. No one call-up from Rockford is going to alter the course by himself. Same for any trade that they would consider between now and the trade deadline, which is months away. As Sharp said following Sunday’s game, “I’ve been through it 1,000 times.” Many of his teammates have, too.

The Blackhawks were reminded once again on Sunday that nothing comes easy. When they were at their best it took a lot of hard work to make it look easy. They’ll have to work that much harder now.

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

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AP

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?