Blackhawks

Five Things: Blackhawks will benefit from some time off

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Five Things: Blackhawks will benefit from some time off

RALEIGH, N.C. — Well, that was a forgettable one, wasn’t it?

The Blackhawks didn’t want to repeat their pre-Christmas outing, but that’s pretty much what they did when they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes, 5-0, on Tuesday night. It was a forgettable outing entering the All-Star break, a respite the Blackhawks clearly need. So before we all power down for a few days, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to Carolina.

1. This team needs a rest. The Blackhawks didn’t want to talk about the break or how much they might need the break. They didn’t have to: It was pretty clear from their play the last few games, and especially Tuesday’s outing, that they need to recharge. In their three recent losses, the Blackhawks have just one goal. Yep, whether they’re heading to a beach or heading home, the Blackhawks need to take advantage of the next few days.

2. Jonathan Toews fighting through it. Toews, who was fighting illness the past few days, did not play at all in the third period. Toews had taken some morning skates off which, considering how much hockey he’s played, wasn’t a huge surprise — he was still playing every game. But with the Blackhawks losing, 5-0, after two, it was a good time for Toews to shut it down.

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3. Corey Crawford pulled, but ... Crawford’s early exit was not about him. He’s been stellar these last few weeks. But with the Blackhawks having an awful outing in front of him, coach Joel Quenneville looked to stoke the team fire by benching Crawford. It didn’t really work, but if nothing else, Crawford got another 40 minutes of well-deserved rest.

4. Joakim Nordstrom scores against his former team. Nordstrom is getting an opportunity with the Hurricanes — second line currently — that he probably wasn’t going to get with the Blackhawks. And lately he’s made the most of it. Nordstrom scored his fifth goal of the season, and his third in as many games, against the Blackhawks on Tuesday. Nordstrom was always a hard worker. Good to see him taking advantage of the chance he’s received in Carolina.

5. No goals again. This is likely another sign of fatigue, but this was the second of their three losses in which the Blackhawks were held scoreless (Florida beat them 4-0 on Friday). When the second line isn’t even anywhere on the score sheet, you know it’s a bad night.

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: