Five Things: Blackhawks slip to second in Central Division


Five Things: Blackhawks slip to second in Central Division

Five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night at the United Center.

1. Blackhawks slip to second in Central Division. A week ago, the Blackhawks appeared to be in comfortable control of the division lead after kicking down the Dallas Stars in their own building. Since then, the Blackhawks have taken just one of six points in three games while the Stars have collected six points in their last three. Both teams sit at 77 points, but Dallas owns the tiebreaker and has three games in hand.

2. Line changes didn't change much. Joel Quenneville tinkered with his bottom-six forward lines and defensive pairings on Saturday looking for some extra jump, but he didn't get it. The most notable adjustment was making Erik Gustafsson a healthy scratch in favor of Viktor Svedberg, who was called back up from Rockford on Friday. Perhaps this may have been a move to get Gustafsson re-ignited, but they could've used another possession-type player against a Ducks team that outshot the Blackhawks 44-23.

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3. Penalty kill unit bounces back. Entering Saturday's game, the Blackhawks had allowed three power play goals in their last three penalty kill attempts. Aside from the 4-on-3 overtime goal, the Blackhawks bounced back in a big way, killing off six of seven penalties in the loss. This area will be crucial going forward with one of the team's best penalty killers in Marian Hossa, who's expected to be out for a bit.

4. Marian Hossa 'could miss some time.' After having just played two games without Artemi Panarin due to an illness, the Blackhawks may be without another top player for the foreseeable future. Hossa left Saturday's game with an apparent leg injury, leaving the ice without putting much pressure on his left leg. When asked if it could be a long-term injury, Quenneville said "that's stretching it. Weeks. Not that long. ... We don't think it's serious, but (he) could miss some time."

5. Brent Seabrook sets career-high in goals scored. With two more goals on Saturday night, Seabrook established a new career-high in goals scored (10) after previously scoring nine goals in a season three times (2007-08, 2010-11, 2011-12). He's quietly having the best season of his career, and there are still 23 games left in the season.

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: