Blackhawks

Five Things from Blackhawks-Coyotes: Special teams surge

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Coyotes: Special teams surge

The Blackhawks wanted to be playing better as they neared the end of the regular season.

And while some of their games have been interesting, sometimes too close for comfort, the Blackhawks are stringing together some victories and gaining some much-needed confidence. They continued that trend on Tuesday night, beating the Arizona Coyotes 6-2 for their third consecutive victory and fifth in their last six games.

So before we head into an off day, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over the Coyotes.

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1. The captain is heating up. Jonathan Toews had a short-handed goal and an assist in Tuesday night’s game. That’s five consecutive games in which Toews has scored at least a point, and his goal in this one gave him 250 for his NHL career. Toews said there were times this season he wasn’t happy with his game — “it was, at times, frustrating,” he said on Tuesday morning. We’re guessing the frustration is waning that much more with each passing game.

2. Is the power play waking up again? Could be, if the last two games are any evidence. The Blackhawks scored three power-play goals — including two on Antoine Vermette’s five-minute boarding penalty — giving them five in their last two games. The Blackhawks were more in shooting mode in recent advantages, and it’s paying off. Everything has its ebbs and flows in a season. But the Blackhawks’ power play seems to be surging at the right time.3.

3. Artemi Panarin keeps racking up the points. It wasn’t long ago that the Blackhawks probably thought they’d dodge those salary bonuses with the rookie. Well, they probably won’t because Panarin is heating up again. With his two assists on Tuesday night, Panarin now has 10 points in his last three games. The Blackhawks figured they had a good thing when they signed Panarin, but they’ll probably pay for it.

4. The penalty kill keeps improving. This may be more important than the power play, because this was a serious problem for several weeks. The Blackhawks killed off six Coyotes power plays on Tuesday. Since Marcus Kruger returned, the Blackhawks’ penalty kill has gone 17-for-17. Coincidence? Who knows? Kruger was actually in the box for two of those kills, including the one that Toews turned into a short-handed goal. But there’s no doubt having one more good penalty killer back in the lineup has been beneficial.

[MORE: Blackhawks bury Coyotes with second straight six-goal game]

5. Winning despite missing bodies. Yes, the Blackhawks have missed Corey Crawford for several weeks now, and their record was up-and-down when he first went down. But in recent games in which they’ve been without Duncan Keith (suspension), Andrew Shaw (upper body) and Marian Hossa (lower body), the Blackhawks have found ways to win. The Blackhawks have usually done well when they’ve had to band together in the wake of injuries. They’re doing that right now. 

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: