Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Kris Versteeg pokes fun at former teammate Jonathan Toews

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Blackhawks: Kris Versteeg pokes fun at former teammate Jonathan Toews

RALEIGH, N.C. – Kris Versteeg couldn’t resist.

The Carolina Hurricanes forward will always be close with his former Blackhawks’ teammates, with whom he helped win his second Stanley Cup last spring. But when asked by Hurricanes television who his favorite Blackhawks player to chirp was, Versteeg said that was easy.

“Toewser’s the easiest,” Versteeg said of Jonathan Toews. “He’s just a big baby. He’s just an overgrown baby.”

Of course, Versteeg was joking with the Blackhawks captain. But that didn’t stop him from sending his good-natured ribbing directly to Toews, too.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“I actually even told him myself, just so people know, I definitely texted him myself and told him that, too,” Versteeg said to laughs. “They asked me [about who to chirp], I thought I’d answer as truthfully as I could.”

Versteeg and the Hurricanes handed the Blackhawks a 2-1 loss in Chicago on Dec. 27. The Blackhawks began what would be a franchise-best 12-game winning streak the next game. As far as Tuesday's matchup, Versteeg knows it’ll be another tough test for a Carolina team that’s gained points in seven of its last 10 games.

“To be a part of this [Carolina] team all season, watching young guys get better and grow and start winning more consistently, especially since December rolled around, it’s been real exciting and rewarding. Hopefully we can keep building on that but we have our work cut out for us tonight,” Versteeg said. “It’s going to be a tough two points and if we put our best foot forward, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”

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: