Five Things from Blackhawks-Kings: Corey Crawford stellar again

Five Things from Blackhawks-Kings: Corey Crawford stellar again

The Blackhawks entered Sunday night’s game against the Los Angeles Kings feeling better about themselves, thanks to a victory in New Jersey on Friday.

Building off victories or good things done in games, however, hasn’t been so easy this season. But on Sunday, the Blackhawks were looking like their old selves. Is this the start of a trend in the right direction? As coach Joel Quenneville often says, “we’ll see.” Until then, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-0 victory over the Kings.

1. The Blackhawks’ penalty kill had an unblemished night. Yes, the Blackhawks just had to kill off two penalties but they did it – they’ve had three other games in which they took just two penalties and couldn’t get through both. You could tell Quenneville didn’t want to jinx the kill’s recent success – when asked about it following the game, he simply knocked on the lectern and left it at that. Marian Hossa said more about it. “We were showing better signs the last couple of games in the penalty kill and I think it’s great for the confidence for the whole team, for our goalies, and feels definitely good we didn’t get scored on,” he said.

2. Marian Hossa honored. One game after scoring his 501st career regular-season goal, Hossa was honored for his 500th in a pregame ceremony. His youngest daughter stole the show, grabbing her father’s nose to the delight of the United Center crowd and GIF makers. After receiving a gold stick – to go with the silver one he received for playing in his 1,000th regular-season game – Hossa continued to find some solid chemistry with second-line mates Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin.

3. Jonathan Toews gets his first of the season. You could tell from the captain’s reaction he was thrilled – perhaps even a little relieved – to get that first goal of the season. The Blackhawks have said a few times that Toews’ overall play was how they judged him, and that the goals would come at some point. Toews usually does take a few games to get going scoring-wise, so it wasn’t alarming. But a two-point night that included that first goal was nevertheless a good sign.

[RELATED: Corey Crawford, Blackhawks blank Kings]

4. Anisimov continues to score. Yes, the second-line center knows his faceoffs need to improve – he and Yanic Perreault did some work on those earlier this week. But as far as his offensive production, Anisimov is doing just fine. His second-period goal, off the pass from Hossa, ties him with Richard Panik with a team-high six goals. His seven-game point streak is a career best.

5. Corey Crawford collects career shutout No. 20. Crawford had a rather laid-back reaction to finding out he recorded that 20th shutout – “uh, it’s nice,” he said with a smile. Crawford’s taken his lumps with the rest of the Blackhawks’ penalty kill but overall he’s played well. He’s now stopped 62 of the 64 shots he’s seen in his last two games, including all 32 he saw against the Kings on Sunday.

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: