Five Things: Blackhawks' Marian Hossa is still a tremendous two-way player


Five Things: Blackhawks' Marian Hossa is still a tremendous two-way player

Once upon a time I received an email that started off, “You’re good, you’re not great.”

Besides being the greatest start of any email ever, that could also describe the Blackhawks on Saturday night: good, not great. As we’ve written here a few times already, however, that’s to be expected after all the offseason changes. Still, the Blackhawks did a few more things right in their 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

[MORE: Blackhawks offense wakes up in win over Blue Jackets]

So while we all try to get past good and onto great, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory.

1. Marian Hossa is still a tremendous two-way player. Speaking of great… Hossa was already having a strong game on Saturday when he picked Matt Calvert’s pocket and scored a 5-on-3 goal that gave the Blackhawks a 3-0 lead at the time. The ageless Hossa never ceases to amaze those who see it on a nightly basis. “That was a pretty special play,” Corey Crawford said. “He didn’t quit on that one. We lost the puck at the blue line and he came back and did the rest.”

2. Brandon Saad’s emotional night. You wondered what the reaction would be when Saad returned to the United Center. He and the Blackhawks couldn’t work out a deal but Blackhawks fans greeted him with loud applause and a standing ovation during a first-period video tribute. Saad’s in a much different place now, playing for a Columbus team that’s gotten off to a surprisingly bad start. But Saad did some tremendous things in his time in Chicago, and fans showed how much they appreciated that on Saturday.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. A nice debut for Mr. Hinostroza. Vinnie Hinostroza was probably a jumble of nerves when he made his NHL debut on Saturday night but he looked pretty calm on the ice. He brought some stability and a threat to that third line, which had been mediocre through this early season. We’ll see if Hinostroza’s in the lineup when the Blackhawks play on Florida, but he certainly had an energetic start on Saturday.

4. Anisimov answers again. Artem Anisimov gets overshadowed playing with Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane. He’s the non-flashy, non-showy portion of that line. But he’s a steady part of that trio, a big body who will go to the net. He did that again on Saturday and earned his second goal of the season on another backhand shot.

5. Bickell “OK” on the top line. If you’ve listened to coach Joel Quenneville for any amount of time, you know that when he says a player is “OK,” as he said Bryan Bickell was on the top line on Saturday, he means player was not good. So, who’s next at that left-wing spot with Jonathan Toews and Hossa?

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: