Blackhawks think All-Star Game change could be good


Blackhawks think All-Star Game change could be good

EDMONTON, Alberta – The NHL All-Star Game has its fun moments.

The player draft has made for some entertainment the past few years they’ve done it. The skills competition always draws interest from fans and creativity from players. The game itself, however, has gotten pretty dull. Too often, it looks like players just going through the motions out there, and it’s led to listless hockey. 

A format change, however, could make that game fun again.

This year’s All-Star Game will be played in a 3-on-3 format and feature three 20-minute tournaments instead of one five-on-five game, according to reports out of Canada. According to reports, each of the league’s four divisions would have a team, with the winning team from each conference facing each other in the “final” game.

A formal announcement is expected some time on Wednesday.

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As for 3-on-3, the league implemented it for overtimes this season in an effort to cut down on shootouts, and it’s had the desired effect. The last few All-Star Games have featured plenty of scoring; Team Toews defeated Team Foligno 17-12 in the 2015 game in Columbus. But from a hockey standpoint, the games have been boring.

Patrick Kane said changing up the All-Star Game is probably a good idea.

“I think it’d be fun. I think it’s exciting for the fans and the big thing this year with the 3-on-3 overtime and how people are talking about that and how exciting it is,” he said. “You kind of realize that there probably needs to be some type of change in the All-Star Game, especially the way it’s been the past few years.”

Coach Joel Quenneville agreed, saying some of the games have been “hard to watch.”

“I think that change is necessary: trying to mix it up so there’s competitiveness, some fun but guys are playing for keeps in a way where all of a sudden [they’re] playing real hockey,” he said. “It’s hard watching sometimes when you know the guys are out there; they’re playing but the pace of the game isn’t anything close to how they normally play. So hopefully this’ll be a good change, because 3-on-3 so far has been a good chance. A new format is needed.”

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The All-Star Game still has its entertaining moments; the game itself, however, hasn’t been one for quite some time. A change could make the entire weekend worth watching again.

“It could be a great weekend if you think about it,” Kane said. “A lot of people tune into the skills competition, and if you switch it up to 3-on-3 maybe there’s more entertainment, maybe guys go a little bit harder. I don’t know. But it’s not a bad idea to try something different.”

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?