Blackhawks

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Devils

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Devils

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the New Jersey Devils Sunday on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Brian Boyle.

The city of Chicago and the entire hockey community has rallied around Blackhawks TV analyst Eddie Olczyk as he continues to battle through colon cancer, and what's made it inspiring is Edzo's will to keep making several appearances on the broadcast in between his treatments. New Jersey is going through something similar with Brian Boyle, who was diagnosed with leukemia in September.

And he didn't stay down for long, either.

Boyle made his season debut earlier this month against Vancouver, then scored his first goal of the season on Thursday against Edmonton. It was an emotional moment, and we're all behind both of them.

2. Can second line build off last night?

Nick Schmaltz, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane combined for only one point in Saturday's 4-3 overtime win against Carolina, but they were arguably the best line of the night for the Blackhawks.

It was the first time Schmaltz played wing this season, despite spending a majority of last season there. He and Kane compliment each other well, as does Anisimov, who's that big-bodied center and can provide net front presence. 

Let's see if that line can stick for now.

3. Red Tilson Trophy​ winner meets Hobey Baker Award winner.

Battle royale!

Last season, both Alex DeBrincat and Will Butcher helped spearhead their respective teams to the top of their leagues and finished their junior and college careers by taking home some individual hardware as well.

DeBrincat put up video-game numbers in the Ontario Hockey League, where he compiled 65 goals and 62 assists for 127 points in 63 games to win the Red Tilson Trophy as the league's top player. 

Butcher captained Denver University to its first NCAA championship since 2005 after scoring seven goals and 30 assists in 43 games, and became the first defenseman to win the Hobey Baker Award as college's top player since Matt Gilroy in 2009.

The 19-year-old DeBrincat has five goals and five assists in 17 games, including six points in as many games, for the Blackhawks this season while the 22-year-old Butcher has 13 assists in 16 games for the Devils. 

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.