Five Things: Blackhawks hit with rare call, Crawford excellent again


Five Things: Blackhawks hit with rare call, Crawford excellent again

TAMPA — The Blackhawks weren’t thrilled with their team outing on Thursday, but they could take some comfort in knowing it was their first loss since Dec. 27.

Yes, the 12-game winning streak is over. It was a fun ride, one that catapulted the Blackhawks to the top of the Central Division standings. They’re still there, thanks to the cushion they’ve built. They also have no time to be disappointed in this one, given they’re playing the Florida Panthers, who had a 12-game winning streak of their own not too long ago, on Friday night.

So before we head to the other side of the state — it’s nice and warm over there, too — let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

1. Corey Crawford could’ve used some help. It was another night in which Crawford could’ve compiled a highlight reel of his saves. He did everything he could to keep the Blackhawks in this one, stopping 31 of 33 shots. “I thought he was great tonight,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He gave us a chance to be in the game the whole time.”

2. That odd infraction. There were a few people scratching their heads when Patrick Kane was called for interference when he played the puck before he was fully out of the penalty box in the second period. The rule is highlighted here. It was odd, it was costly — the Lightning scored the game-winning goal on that power play — but it was nonetheless legit. It was rarely called penalty night, though: Valtteri Filppula was whistled for a face-off violation to start the third.

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3. No generation. Artem Anisimov gave the Blackhawks the lead on their first shot on goal just 43 seconds into the game. It would take to the end of the second period for the Blackhawks to get another eight shots on Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop. Yeah, it’s been a while since the Blackhawks generated so little. They finished with 18 shots, their lowest total this season — the previous low was 19 against the Calgary Flames on Nov. 20. “It seemed like they had pretty good sticks and they closed the gap in their zone pretty fast,” Crawford said. “Just one of those games, I guess.”

4. A costly snooze. Richard Panik was settling in nicely with the Blackhawks. He found a place on the fourth line and scored two goals in as many games. But when he overslept on Thursday morning he made Quenneville one unhappy coach. Panik was benched, and the Blackhawks went with a seventh defenseman — Rob Scuderi, who played on the fourth line. Don’t know if Panik is in the lineup on Friday vs. the Panthers, but we’re guessing he learned his lesson.

5. A changing of the forward. Ryan Garbutt’s time here was brief, as he’s the latest to be shipped elsewhere. Jiri Sekac, who the Blackhawks acquired from the Anaheim Ducks, will likely make his debut on Friday against Florida. Garbutt’s energy was good for the Blackhawks, but the younger Sekac, who’s in the final season of his contract, might have more upside in the long haul.

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?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?


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: