Blackhawks

Blackhawks get throttled by Wild in Stadium Series

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Blackhawks get throttled by Wild in Stadium Series

MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Wild talked Saturday about finally getting an outdoor game and how the team wouldn’t get caught up in all the fun and festivities that surround it.

It certainly didn’t.

Jason Pominville, Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Carter recorded a goal and an assist each and Devan Dubnyk stopped 31 of 32 shots as the Wild beat the Blackhawks 6-1 on Sunday afternoon. The Blackhawks snapped a two-game winning streak but remain atop the Central Division. The Dallas Stars, who are idle today, remain a point behind in second place.

[MORE: Alumni game rekindles Blackhawks-North Stars memories]

Patrick Kane had the Blackhawks’ lone goal. Corey Crawford was pulled entering the second period after allowing four goals on 23 shots through the first 40 minutes. For the Blackhawks, this was a forgettable one from the start. They looked lackluster against a Wild team that was winning every puck battle and getting plenty of odd-man opportunities.

“I mean these games, they’re early in the day; sometimes it seems like one team starts faster than another one,” Kane said. “They’ve got some momentum ever since the coaching change, and seems like they’re rolling with confidence right now. These games and points are important to them to try and get a playoff spot. Tough game overall for us but we have to learn from it.”

Michal Rozsival was assessed a five-minute interference and a game misconduct for his hit on Jason Zucker in the second period. It looked like Rozsival’s shoulder made contact near Zucker’s chin. Zucker fell hard onto the back of his head and needed help off the ice; he did not return.

“I didn’t think it was a major; spontaneous play as a defenseman in that situation. He played the man,” coach Joel Quenneville said of Rozsival. “Unfortunately a player was injured.”

The Wild was in a tailspin last week, losing eight in a row and ultimately firing head coach Mike Yeo. It’s been a different team under John Torchetti, who was named interim coach upon Yeo’s dismissal. The Wild has won four in a row under Torchetti, scoring 21 goals in these four games.

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Buy a Stadium Series jersey]

Still, the Wild’s great game doesn’t excuse the Blackhawks for their poor one.

“That wasn’t anywhere near the way we can play. Against a dangerous team that’s been playing really well lately, we just didn’t have anything throughout the whole game,” Crawford said. “Right from the start, it’s not the way we usually play. That’s something we need to learn a lesson from and realize that there are no easy games going forward. If we don’t bring everything we have it’s going to end up like that.”

When the Blackhawks have been good, they’ve been very good. When they’ve played poorly lately, they’ve allowed a lot. Perhaps they’re late-season blips on the radar but Quenneville isn’t a fan of this happening at any time.

“It’s not characteristic of our team game, from start to finish; getting behind by a big margin or a big number is something we’re unaccustomed to over the last three years. It’s crept a little into our game,” Quenneville said. “It’s something that can’t happen at that regularity or happen at all.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Seth Gruen (Big Ten Unfiltered) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) join Kap on the panel. 

The Blackhawks drop their 8th straight. So should their “One Goal” be to tank?

Plus, Jon Lester isn’t a fan of the new pace of play proposals. Is he right?

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

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With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

After losing their eighth straight game and falling 12 points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, the Blackhawks' playoff chances have dipped to a season-low 0.2 percent. It would take a miracle for them to extend their postseason streak to 10 at this point, where getting just one win seems like a monumental task.

The Blackhawks were probably never really going to be buyers before the Feb. 26 trade deadline even if they were still in the hunt, but it's hard to imagine they had plans to be sellers. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has reiterated over and over again that he's confident in this group, one that's getting younger and faster.

But now they've reached a territory where they have to consider selling off spare parts simply to coup some draft picks or prospects that they could perhaps retain or use as sweeteners in the offseason.

So which players could the Blackhawks realistically sell?

Let's start with the two players getting rewarded with top-six ice time as of late: Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels.

These are two players that play with high energy and go to the greasy areas, something that's important in the playoffs when scoring goals becomes more difficult. They can clean up rebounds. Wingels, particularly, likely has more value and it's showing given his recent success on the power play as a net-front presence guy. He also isn't a stranger to the playoffs with 54 games under his belt compared to Bouma's five.

Both of them are pending unrestricted free agents and are making $1 million or fewer, which certainly works in the Blackhawks' favor considering they won't cost much and their cap hits are easy to fit in on any interested team.

Maybe a team would like to take a flyer on Tomas Jurco, who's a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but that would be a move somebody makes as more of a longer term project than strengthening your depth for a playoff run this spring.

On the back end, Michal Kempny and Jan Rutta could be in play for a contender looking to ensure some depth as a sixth or seventh defenseman. Again, each of them are making less than $1 million so it's a low-risk situation for clubs whose Plan A or B fall through and may be interested in at least getting something.

While they don't have much NHL experience, they're both 27 years old and have played the sport long enough to know what they can bring to the table.

Once Feb. 26 passes and potential roster spots open up, expect the Blackhawks to start calling up the kids. 

Matthew Highmore deserves a look after leading the Rockford IceHogs with 20 goals and 32 points. John Hayden has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 15 games since joining Rockford, and belongs in the NHL. Even Anthony Louis, who's taken a step forward, should get a taste of the action as he continues his development.

Carl Dahlstrom is getting his shot now. Erik Gustafsson is in that process as well. Gustav Forsling had another extended look during the first half of the season before the team decided it would be wise to continue his development in Rockford, where he can play top-pairing minutes.

All of this would give the Blackhawks a better indicator of how they can approach the upcoming offseason, and which young guys they can possibly add into the mix for 2018-19. But first, we have to see how the end of February plays out before making those calls.