Five things from Blackhawks' Stanley Cup clincher


Five things from Blackhawks' Stanley Cup clincher

Well, the Blackhawks did it.

The sour taste they had in their mouth following last year’s Western Conference Final carried over to training camp, when the Blackhawks realized how long the road was going to be to get back to even that point. But they took that road, dealt with the ups and downs of it along the way and, once again, hoisted the Stanley Cup at the end of that arduous trek.

The Blackhawks won their third Cup in the past six seasons when they ousted the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 on Monday night. Duncan Keith earned the Conn Smythe Trophy. Corey Crawford earned a shutout and – maybe – a little more respect league wide.

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But we know you’re all reveling in the Cup victory so we’ll get to the point. Here to cap Game No. 105, are the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ Cup triumph.

1. Keith takes home his own hardware. What a postseason for the defenseman, who logged a ton of minutes – more than 700 – and just got better with every passing moment. It was only fitting that Keith scored what proved to be the game-winning goal. His play cannot be heralded enough. Said Quenneville of Keith, “great selection, great guy, based on a lot of reasons. He defends as well as he does and he still creates a lot of offense for us against top players.”
2. Kimmo Timonen gets his Cup moment. You could see the joy and relief on Timonen’s face as he lifted the Cup above his head. The defenseman said he was retiring at the end of this season no matter what, but a Cup victory would be the perfect ending. Well, Timonen, who overcame blood-clot problems during the offseason, got his perfect ending. “Doctors have their own opinion and they were probably right,” Timonen said of his health issues that almost cost him this season completely “But my desire was so deep. If there was any chance I could make a comeback I [wanted] to do it.”

[MORE: Mission accomplished: Blackhawks bring home third Stanley Cup in six years]
3. Corey Crawford finishes with a bang and a blanking. Crawford wanted to forget his first round, which was rough. No better way to erase the start than to come through in the end, and Crawford was great when the Blackhawks needed him to be again. Crawford stopped all 25 shots he faced on Monday. In his last three games – all victories – Crawford held the Lightning, the highest scoring team in the regular season, to just two goals. Said Brandon Saad, “We know who he is. He gets bad press or whatever it is, they can say whatever they want, as a group in there we know what he does. He can steal games for us. He's a big time player. He anchors our team and we love him.”
4. Patrick Kane comes through again. Kane, much like Tampa Bay forward Steven Stamkos, was asked a lot about not scoring throughout this Stanley Cup Final. But when the Blackhawks needed an exclamation-point goal in Game 6, guess who provided it? Kane gave the Blackhawks that insurance goal they needed en route to this third Cup. “I felt so good and I knew I had to step up,” Kane said. “So many guys on our team had already done that during the series so I knew I had to do something. It was great to come in and produce.”
5. Three Cups in six seasons means… Some will call it a dynasty. Some won’t want to use that word because the Blackhawks didn’t win them in successive seasons like the NHL’s past dynasties. But in the salary-cap world, we’re using the D word. The Blackhawks just find ways of getting to this point, or close to it, despite the money restrictions and the departure of players. They’ll have to go through it again this offseason. Maybe they don’t get to this point again next season, when they’ll have a lot of youth joining them. But don’t doubt they’ll be back soon.

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

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?