Five Things: Blackhawks start poorly against dangerous Stars


Five Things: Blackhawks start poorly against dangerous Stars

Remember when the Blackhawks said they made a statement in their victory over the Dallas Stars last week? Well, the Stars made one right back on Thursday.

Yes, it was a rather forgettable night for the Blackhawks, who looked lackluster at best in their 4-2 loss to the Stars. Ah, why go through a long setup in this one? Let’s just rip the Band-Aid off and get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to the Stars.

1. Bad start against a dangerous team. Coach Joel Quenneville labels a few NHL teams dangerous. This one actually is. The Stars were angry and frustrated after their loss to the Blackhawks and had something to prove in this one. They were hot from the start, caught the Blackhawks on their heels and the Blackhawks didn’t react through the first 40 minutes. Quenneville used the word “brutal” twice to describe the Blackhawks’ start. Hard to argue.

2. The Blackhawks miss Artemi Panarin. No, his absence (due to illness) is not the reason they lost. Let’s remember the Blackhawks suffered two ugly shutouts entering the All-Star break, and Panarin was perfectly healthy and in those lineups. But there’s no doubt it disrupted the chemistry the Blackhawks, and that second line, have had this season. We’re guessing the Blackhawks staff has expedited chicken soup to his house.

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3. The Stars power play capitalizes. Dallas has a decent advantage on the road (11th in the league), but it looked a lot better than that on Thursday night. The Stars scored on both of their first-period power plays; it took them all of four seconds to score on the second one, the third of Patrick Eaves’ goals on the night. The Blackhawks had two short-handed goals against the Stars last week. Their penalty kill was futile in this one.

4. Goalie change changes energy — eventually. Scott Darling took over for Corey Crawford after Crawford allowed the Stars’ four goals on 18 first-period shots. But if the move was made to stoke the Blackhawks’ collective fire, it didn’t work in the second period. It took the Blackhawks until the third period to wake up, and by then it was too little too late.

5. Paying homage to Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya. The Blackhawks rolled video montages to both former Blackhawks, a longer one for Sharp, who spent 10 seasons and won three Stanley Cups here. Sharp looked emotional at the end of his, and both players got great ovations from the Blackhawks fans. It brought emotions from the Blackhawks, too. “It brings back good memories, and obviously you miss those friends and those teammates,” Jonathan Toews said. “They're doing well. They're obviously playing well. They have a good team and a good city around them. We’d love to have those guys still in this room, so in a way it's kind of tough to see.”

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: