Blackhawks

Blackhawks Mailbag: How long could Kane's point streak go?

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Blackhawks Mailbag: How long could Kane's point streak go?

Patrick Kane’s point streak has been something to watch these last few weeks, and the Blackhawks forward ran his streak to a career-best 19 games, also a new record for a U.S.-born player, in the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.

Kane and his current scoring surge is also a big topic in our inaugural Blackhawks mailbag. As a disclaimer, I don’t know why it took me so long to start one of these. But this one came about thanks to a 3 1/2-hour flight. You never know where inspiration strikes.

I say he gets to 22, eclipsing Bobby Hull’s franchise mark.

It’s early but Kane is certainly getting off to a good start in possibly claiming that at the end of this season. He was on his way to being a candidate for it last season if not for suffering a fractured clavicle in late February. We’ll see how that all shakes out.

Well, he isn’t retiring now so we don’t have to worry about it. Kane’s got a lot of years left, but there’s no doubt, at the rate he’s going, he’ll be a shoo-in.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Now, onto other questions, starting with another one that’s a big topic of interest:

I’ll be honest, I would’ve bet my paycheck he was going to come back during the Circus Trip. That’s when he was scoring a lot of points for the Rockford IceHogs. But coach Joel Quenneville said bringing back Bickell wasn’t in the plans at the time. General manager Stan Bowman, when asked last week if there was a timeline for Bickell’s return, said, “we don’t preordain that. We’ll just assess as we go. The better he plays down there, the better chance he has to come back and help us.”

I think he’s used the blender fairly well. Earlier this season I thought he should keep some lines together a little longer to see if some chemistry could develop, and it looks like he’s done that with some of them, including that current top line (Andrew Shaw, Jonathan Toews, Ryan Garbutt). This was going to take time, and I think he’s done as good a job as possible. I think we’re all a little surprised at how Toews and Marian Hossa couldn’t find a left wing with whom to click earlier.

Finding four rotating lines. We’re used to seeing the Blackhawks at their best when they’ve got that going. Even finding three that he could rotate regularly would be good.

Hmmm, here’s what I would do right now:

Teravainen-Toews-Hossa (give him another shot)

Panarin-Anisimov-Kane (yeah, I’m cheating here)

Dano-Kero-Garbutt

Shaw-Kruger-Desjardins

[MORE: Blackhawks fairly happy with Circus Trip results]

Of course, like Quenneville, I reserve the right to change my mind before the end of this mailbag.

I’m going to go with Saad. No offense to Sharp, but he had a bad 2014-15 and the Blackhawks miss Saad for a few reasons: he filled that top-line left-wing role, he put up points and he added to the penalty kill.

If Keith is still ailing, he’s fooling the heck out of me. I did think he looked shaky with his puck handling against the Ducks, but yet there he was, scoring the game-tying goal at the end of regulation. He’s gone right back to playing his normal minutes and putting up points, so right now, I think he looks great.

This question was so much easier to answer when Nick Leddy was here. I’d probably put Garbutt atop the list right now. You’ve seen on some of those penalty kills how fast he can be. Kane and Duncan Keith are certainly up there, and same with Panarin.

OK, for this one and anyone else who asked about the possibilities of trading Bickell, I doubt it’ll happen. Maybe in a package, but I still doubt it. The Blackhawks have tried already, and the interest clearly isn’t there.

[ALSO: Five things we learned from Blackhawks-Kings]

As for this particular scenario, I think it’s a bad idea. I would not get rid of Teravainen under any circumstance. Stan Bowman said the same thing a few years ago. Yes, he said the same thing about Brandon Saad at that time, too, but that was before Sadd priced himself out of town.

Again, this is another question that a few of you asked in various ways. I’ll just address Daley in one shot.

I know Daley’s name has been bandied about as a trade possibility. I honestly don’t know if they’d get rid of him. I personally think he’s been playing better since he was paired with Michal Rozsival. I know it’s not a dream tandem but it’s a 5-6 tandem.

I guess there’s always a chance, but it seems others have passed Mr. McNeill on the depth chart.

First, Dano is not in the doghouse. He was scratched a game. And let’s be honest: he hasn’t exactly been doing anything great in recent games. Second, we’re comparing apples to oranges here. There’s no doubt coach Joel Quenneville likes to have a big guy in the lineup, someone who can land a few hits. That would be Bryan Bickell if he were here, but he’s not. Dano is 20, he has plenty to learn and folks need to stop thinking he’s getting denied something. He’s not; he’s just not playing very well. He’ll get better. Again, can’t compare Dano and Mashinter: two different players with two different games.

Guessing a lot of this is bred from the Blackhawks’ loss to Los Angeles on Saturday night. Besides that game and the home game vs. St. Louis a few weeks ago, I think the Blackhawks have held leads fairly well. As always, it’s a team mentality with the defense. Their last two games against the Ducks and Kings, they allowed too many odd-man rushes, too many golden opportunities. They have to be careful with passes,clears, etc.

I’ve always been a Steelers fan, for obvious logistical reasons. I was a Colts fan, too, when they were in Baltimore, because I was born there. They lost me when they moved out in the middle of the night. And, of course, I’m a longtime Cubs fan. They made baseball fun for me to watch again this season.

Chris, if I had that kind of power, I’d be using it for lottery numbers. I really don’t know why someone always seems to score a goal when I head to the elevator. If I were a better planner I’d just head to the elevator when they show Kiss-Cam, so I would guarantee I wouldn’t miss anything.

Thanks for your questions, everyone. My apologies if I didn’t get to them all. See you again for the next one, which I hope to write before another Circus Trip.

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

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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?