Blackhawks

Blackhawks quiet on the trade front

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Blackhawks quiet on the trade front

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman talked about the progress of some prospects during this weeks camp, how Brandon Saad has great potential this season, how Adam Clendening is among the top young defensemen in the system and how Teuvo Teravainen is going to be a special player.
But along the trade front, the talk has diminished.
It was a quiet week around the NHL in terms of trades. And while Bowman said that theres still talk going on, its not as frantic as 10 days ago.
Weve had discussions but a lot of teams are doing camps like we are. Teams across the league are focusing on this, Bowman said as the Blackhawks camp wrapped up on Friday. This is an important event for us and were dedicating a lot of time on it. There are still discussions, but its not like it was probably 10 days ago.
So now with camps ending, the talk will probably pick up again. There are still a few players who could be on the move this summer, from free agents like Shane Doan to those currently with contracts like Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan and Roberto Luongo. The Blackhawks are one of several teams who are interested in Doan, who could still re-sign with the Phoenix Coyotes if their ownership situation gets more settled.
Bowman said the Blackhawks have inquired about several players.
Weve talked to a number of players and were going to continue to do that. Any time we can improve our team, were going to look at it, be it free agency or trade, he said. But weve got a lot of good players here. Some of the kids may be ready to take the next step. Im not saying were not going to do anything else, but we do have a good group here.
Bowman reiterated the need to draft and develop well, and that helped the Blackhawks last season when they got key contributions from recent draftees such as Saad and Andrew Shaw. Saad, who played some center during Fridays scrimmage, is expected to push for a spot on the roster this fall. Shaw is expected to play a bigger role. Clendening, Bowman said, is probably the one (prospect) defenseman who has the most potential to make a jump. Its good for him to look at this year as a learning year, but also one he can make an impact for us.
Will the Blackhawks add anyone else this summer? Talk was quiet this week. But theres a lot of summer left. And with camps finishing, there should be more talking again.
Were in a good position, relative to some teams, he said. Weve got a good group of players, some of them already under contract and some of them are young and you can push them down if you have to. Its going to be a competitive camp even right now, without adding new players.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

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USA TODAY

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

Jean-Francois Berube got his first start of the season on Friday night, and it couldn't have gone any better.

The 26-year-old goaltender stopped 42 of 43 shots, a career-high for him in saves, in the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.

Since Corey Crawford went down with a head injury last December, the Blackhawks have been searching for consistency in the crease. 

The pair of Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass — who was assigned to Rockford on Feb. 15 and replaced with Berube — have had their ups and downs since then. With the Blackhawks out of the playoff picture, Berube had an opportunity showcase his skills, and he didn't disappoint.

"We were very happy with him," said coach Joel Quenneville. "I thought he did a great job. He was comfortable. I thought he was very patient in his net. Absorbing a lot of pucks with people in front of him was good. Closed some gaps and got … of the top of the paint. Rebound control was effective. Nice response from a long absence."

Berube's last — and only — appearance with the Blackhawks prior to Friday's game came on Dec. 6, relieving Forsberg in a game against the Washington Capitals. He recorded 12 saves of 14 shots. 

When Crawford got injured, Berube was the primary candidate to become the team's backup goaltender. The only problem? He was injured too, so the Blackhawks promoted Glass.

"I didn't want to sit and think about it," Berube said of his injury. "At the same time, it was great for Glasser. He was one of those guys that probably deserved it earlier in his career and he finally got his chance. Sometimes you need a guy to go down to have your chance. So I was mostly happy for him.

On Friday night, he got his chance.

"You always want to have a good impression for your first game," Berube said. "I know what I can do at this level, so it was just a matter of getting the opportunity to play and showing people what I can do."

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. Artem Anisimov scored an empty-netter.

"It's a lot more fun coming to the rink when you're winning, enjoying each other, playing well as a team," Schmaltz said of the Blackhawks' win, which have now won three of their last four games. "Hopefully we can keep that good energy and bring it to the rink every day, and build off of that.

"You never know where this team can go, a lot of great players, lots of guys that have had a lot of success. Hopefully we can continue to put together solid efforts."