Blackhawks

Antoine Vermette happy to be back in Blackhawks' lineup

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Antoine Vermette happy to be back in Blackhawks' lineup

Antoine Vermette has been through the career ups and downs and went through both again over the last week.

Acquired to help the Blackhawks through the end of the regular season and playoffs, Vermette sat in Games 1 and 2, which the Blackhawks split with the Nashville Predators. Back for Game 3, however, Vermette is hoping to get his game going and start contributing.

Vermette will also play tonight when the Blackhawks host the Predators in Game 4 of their first-round series. For Vermette, who centered Bryan Bickell and Patrick Sharp on Sunday and looks to do the same tonight, playing at this time of year has been worth the wait.

“It’s different and in a good way,” Vermette said of playoff pace. “It’s fun, it’s intense, it’s physical and every play counts.”

Coach Joel Quenneville was happy with Vermette’s return.

“I think he did a good job catching up to Game 3,” he said. “Pace is a challenge and I thought he did well.”

Sitting the first two games of this series wasn’t fun. It was certainly an unexpected turn of events, given the fact that Vermette was brought in to bolster the Blackhawks’ depth at center and the team gave up quite a bit to get him. Vermette said he tried to maintain the right attitude throughout.

“It’s not the ideal situation, I’m not going to lie. As a competitor you want to be out there and make a difference but you have to deal with it. That’s the attitude you bring,” Vermette said. “How you conduct yourself is going to help your situation, your team, everything. I’ve been through situations throughout my career. It’s up and downs and how you manage to go through it. I believe a good attitude is gong to take you a long way. It’s been working for me since is started playing.”

Vermette is also working out the kinks with faceoffs. He’s had several games in which his winning percentage is well below 50 percent. Coach Joel Quenneville said Vermette has talked with Blackhawks development coach Yanic Perreault.

The Blackhawks will go with this lineup as long as it wins. Vermette has stayed positive through the ups and downs, be it elsewhere or here.

“Your attitude is one thing you can control,” he said. “Being positive and having good energy around the guys, that’s the way to do it. That’s the approach.”

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?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: