Five Things from Blackhawks-Flyers: Relying heavily on second line


Five Things from Blackhawks-Flyers: Relying heavily on second line

PHILADELPHIA – You win some, you lose some. But it’s the way to do both that sometimes looms a little larger.

The Blackhawks could have dealt with their loss to the Philadelphia Flyers if it had still been a good performance. But the good stuff didn’t happen until late, and the Blackhawks were not happy at all with most of their game. So before we call it an evening, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-0 loss to the Flyers.

[MORE: Blackhawks commit six penalties in shutout loss to Flyers]

1. Too many penalties. Entering Wednesday, the Blackhawks had taken four penalties in their first three games. Against the Flyers they were whistled for six penalties, five coming through the first two periods. That put the Blackhawks on the draining penalty kill too often and gave the Flyers momentum. It also gave them the only goal they would need: Sam Gagner’s power-play goal in the second period.

2. Second-line reliance. OK, the Blackhawks aren’t leaning on the second-line combination of Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane. That’s just been the only line combination that’s consistently created anything. Well, it wasn’t going to produce every night. And when it came up empty on Wednesday, it cast a glaring light on the lack of production on the Blackhawks’ other three lines. They have some things to figure out regarding their combinations.

3. First-line conundrum. Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa have been constants on the Blackhawks’ top line. Their left wing, however, has been different every game. Here’s the thing: maybe the Blackhawks need to pick one and stick with one for a while – and by a while we mean more than one game. Yes, the chemistry was instantaneous with Panarin, Anisimov and Kane but it doesn’t always work that way. Pick someone and give him a chance for a bit.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!

4. More shooting on that power play. We’re going to be brief with this one because it’s been written countless times. The Blackhawks had five power plays on Wednesday night. They didn’t score anything. That included 23 seconds of a 5-on-3 on which, we’re pretty sure, they didn’t even register a shot. Shoot. See what happens.

5. Let it go. The Blackhawks have to forget this one for several reasons. First, it’s only their fourth game of the season. Second, they’re playing the Washington Capitals in less than 24 hours. Third, Alex Ovechkin won’t make the same alarm-setting mistake twice.


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?