Blackhawks excited to be reunited with Andrew Ladd


Blackhawks excited to be reunited with Andrew Ladd

Duncan Keith has remained good friends with Andrew Ladd since their first go-around as teammates.

The two have places near each other in British Columbia and train together.

“He’s one of my best friends in hockey,” Keith said late Thursday night.

So Keith is naturally happy to see his best friend as a teammate again after the Blackhawks acquired Ladd from the Winnipeg Jets. The players found out the team traded for Ladd when it was announced on the video board during the first period. For Keith, it was welcome news.

“It’s a huge acquisition for us,” Keith said. “He brings so many things to the table. On top of what he can bring on the ice there are so many things off the ice he’ll bring to our team in the locker room: that leadership and experience. He’s a guy who basically plays any position or any situation. The biggest thing he brings is that hunger to win, and the ability to play in those tough playoff games.”

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Whenever Ladd does get here, he’ll start with two familiar teammates: Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, as the Blackhawks may have finally solved their top-line, left-wing issue.

“You know what Andrew Ladd’s intention is coming here,” Toews said. “You know what he wants to accomplish and a lot of the guys do know what type of person and player he is. So that transition will be as easy as possible. We’re looking forward to it.”

Yes, unlike some of the Blackhawks’ recent trade-deadline acquisitions, there will be no adjustment period. At least there shouldn’t be. Ladd spent three previous seasons with the Blackhawks, during which time he got acquainted with Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and eventually Marian Hossa.

“He’s got some real close friends on our team. That can alleviate things quickly, knowing he’s been here, he’s won with this group and is close friends with some of the guys,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He’ll be welcome with open arms and opportunity’s going to be great. He’s a great addition at this time of the year, for us and for him. The transition should be relatively seamless.”

[MORE: Blackhawks acquire Andrew Ladd from Winnipeg in blockbuster deal]

For Ladd, he’s getting back with teammates who are a few years older, who have honed their games and have learned how to win in the postseason – a couple of times.

“They know how to play the right way,” Ladd said. “Their ability to have such a big impact and big games, they always have big moments at crucial times and that’s what’s made them great. Anyone’s excited to be a part of that again. It’s a treat to watch some of those guys play. You have such a great appreciation for what they do day in, day out, when you play with them each and every day. I’m excited to see them again.”

The Blackhawks are happy to see Ladd again, too. They’ve had a good season thus far; bringing back a familiar player could make it that much better.

“We keep in touch throughout the year, so it’s something we talked about, the potential of that happening,” Keith said of Ladd returning. “We’re all excited to have him.”

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

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?