Five Things: Blackhawks' top line goes on a tear vs. Oilers


Five Things: Blackhawks' top line goes on a tear vs. Oilers

The Blackhawks have looked more like themselves, be it with strong goaltending or more spread-out scoring. They got a good amount of both on Thursday night when they beat the Edmonton Oilers, 4-0.

It was a good response following Tuesday’s game, when they were the recipients of the shutout. Now to find out if their fourth-line center is OK. But we’ll get to that and other items as we look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Edmonton.

1. The top line plays the part. It was a great night for Teuvo Teravainen, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, who each had three-point nights for the Blackhawks. Teravainen had two goals and an assist, Toews had a goal and two assists and Hossa had three assists. Teravainen is starting to play like a guy who knows he belongs in the top six. The hesitancy is starting to wane, and the points are starting to increase. That’s no coincidence. If these three can continue the chemistry, it could be a very potent line.

2. Corey Crawford records another shutout. Our apologies, Corey: You should have been included in the Three Stars (or we should have pushed for a fourth one or combined the top line as one, something like that). Anyway, Crawford stopped 33 shots to record his third shutout in his last four games. He now has the league lead in shutouts this season (five) and is going through arguably the best stretch of his career. After losing focus for part of this season, Crawford’s locked in right now.

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3. Is Marcus Kruger OK? That question remained unanswered on Thursday night after Kruger left the game with what looked like a left hand/wrist injury. Kruger might not be scoring this season, but he’s been a reliable fourth-line center and penalty killer for the Blackhawks. As Duncan Keith said, Kruger brings “all those little intangible things.” The Blackhawks will miss him if he misses any time.

4. Blackhawks stay out of the box. There were just two penalties in Thursday’s game, and both of them were against the Oilers. The Blackhawks’ kill has looked good lately, but they didn’t even have to utilize it in this one. As Crawford said, that helps the entire defensive game.

5. Niklas Hjalmarsson takes a licking. When Hjalmarsson went down in a heap after blocking Justin Schultz’s shot in the first period, it didn’t look good. It’s rare when Hjalmarsson stays down for any length of time or goes to the locker room, which he did after taking that Schultz shot to his left knee. Yet, there was the defenseman, back on the ice just a few minutes after that block. Guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

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: