Blackhawks

Five things from Blackhawks-Penguins: A tale of two power plays

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Five things from Blackhawks-Penguins: A tale of two power plays

Another night, another game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, another victory: it was a nice two-game set for the Blackhawks, who beat the Penguins 3-1 on Wednesday night to win their fifth consecutive game.

And once again, a certain young forward figured prominently in the outcome. But we’ll get to that soon enough. Here are Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ second victory in as many nights over the Penguins.

1. Artemi Panarin delivers again. Panarin is midway through his first NHL season and it’s been a pretty nice one thus far. He added three goals in these two games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who may be quickly becoming his favorite opponent. Said coach Joel Quenneville of Panarin’s shot, “he snaps it. That’s the deception of it that can catch goalies. He has pace behind it, too. you put the two together, it’s lethal.”

2. A tale of two power plays. The Blackhawks’ power play is good, as in second-in-the-NHL good. At home it hasn’t been nearly as opportunistic, especially lately. The Blackhawks went 0-for-3 on it on Wednesday night, not even registering a shot on their third advantage. It ultimately didn’t cost them, but it didn’t help, either. But…

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. The penalty kill comes up big. Yes, Evgeni Malkin’s goal came on a power play, and it was one heck of a shot. But on the Penguins’ ensuing power plays, the Blackhawks’ kill was stellar. The Blackhawks killed off three of four Penguins advantages, any of which could have changed the Penguins’ fortunes on Wednesday night. Said Andrew Desjardins, “you’re short a man so you’re not going to stop every one. There are going to be goals scored. It’s just to rebound from those goals and do your job the next time out.”

4. A nice night for the opposing goalie. Marc-Andre Fleury had Trevor van Riemsdyk frustrated with his great blocker stop on the defenseman in the second period. Fleury did that to a few Blackhawks on Wednesday night, thwarting several golden opportunities. Seriously, Panarin was the only guy to solve him – Teuvo Teravainen’s goal was an empty-net effort – and Panarin’s were just beautifully placed.

5. Not a bad first half. Actually the Blackhawks are one game past the midway point, and what started as an up-and-down season has leveled off. The Blackhawks are finding a nice little rhythm right now. Sure, they’d still like to get more balanced scoring on a consistent basis. But things are coming together and they’re in good shape in the Central Division. Not a bad first 41, er, 42.

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: