Blackhawks

Hawks make it eight straight with win over Leafs

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Hawks make it eight straight with win over Leafs

Saturday, March 5, 2011
Posted: 9:11 p.m. Updated: 10:15 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

TORONTO You dont win eight consecutive games without doing a few things right.

Right now, the Chicago Blackhawks are doing a lot of things right.

The Blackhawks got goals throughout their lineup again and Corey Crawford was stellar again as the Blackhawks won again, this time a 5-3 decision over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.

The Blackhawks, who have now collected points in 12 of their last 13 games, are still fourth in the Western Conference with 80 points. Theyre two points ahead of Phoenix and just two behind San Jose, which played late Saturday against Dallas.

If there was any uncertainty coming out of Saturdays game it was the status of defenseman Duncan Keith, who took a shot to the right hand in the third period and missed the last several shifts.

Im feeling like I would have played if I felt better, said Keith, who remained on the bench through those final minutes. Were going to look at it (Sunday) and see how it is.

The Blackhawks were on the offensive attack early and often again on Saturday. And after so many games where just their top line was scoring, now its everyone. Marian Hossa scored 70 seconds into the game off a bad Toronto pass, and Michael Frolik converted another Leafs miscue about three minutes later. Jonathan Toews continued his torrid streak, scoring his 27th goal to put the Blackhawks up 3-0 after one.

Toews now has a nine-game points streak and seven goals in his last five games.

Viktor Stalberg and Bryan Bickell scored for the Blackhawks, who took a 5-1 advantage after two.

Our guys, its incredible the way were scoring goals, said Crawford, who stopped 30 of 33 for his eighth consecutive decision. The only thing is, when we get up by a couple, not to just let it go and try and stay focused and battle for every shot. This is another huge win for us.

The Blackhawks did have their skittish moments in this one, as would be somewhat expected for a team thats played five games in seven days. When they made mistakes, Crawford was there to clean up the mess.

He was great, especially in the third period, said coach Joel Quenneville. (He made) big saves, the save on the (Mikhail Grabovski) penalty shot and a couple right down the gut. He was huge.

Crawford said he was feeling a little fatigue on Saturday.

I was a little tired tonight. It was really hot on the ice so that played a little factor, said Crawford, who started his 11th consecutive game. It affects everyone. You just have to battle through it and keep working. I feel good.

The Blackhawks are generating offense from everyone and getting great goaltending along with it. They knew this latest stretch was going to be a challenge. With five games in a week complete, its so far, so good.

All year long weve said we needed a roll. Right now were on it, Quenneville said. Lets try to sustain it.

Stalbergs return

Stalberg was rewarded for his work in the second period, when a goal originally given to Tomas Kopecky was later changed to Stalbergs. The left wing, who was traded from Toronto for Kris Versteeg this past offseason, deflected Kopeckys shot for his 10th goal of the season.

I think it was pretty obvious. Kopy would probably like to have it but Im not that nice of a guy, Stalberg said. I dont get too many of those. If I get one, Ill take it.

Ring-ing endorsement

Blackhawks president John McDonough presented a 2010 Stanley Cup ring for the Cup display at the Hockey Hall of Fame here on Saturday afternoon. The ring will is displayed alongside the first Stanley Cup ring from 1893, former Blackhawk and current HHoF chairman Bill Hays 1961 ring, Daryl Seamans 89 ring with the Calgary Flames and Bob Johnsons 91 ring with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Sopel headed to White House

Defenseman Brent Sopel will join his former Blackhawks teammates when they visit the White House on Friday.

Sopel, who was traded from Atlanta to the Montreal Canadiens a few days before the deadline, told canadiens.com on Saturday I got my invite and the team was nice enough to let me go since its between games. Im quite excited for that experience. Ill make my way down to Washington on the 11th and have some fun at the White House. I dont know what the details are yet, but anytime I can see the Stanley Cup with my name on it, it never gets old.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit first-place Lightning

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit first-place Lightning

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.

There hasn't been a more dynamic duo in the NHL so far this season than Kucherov and Stamkos, who have combined for 68 points (27 goals, 41 assists) through 20 games, and sit first and second in the scoring race.

They've each recorded a point in every game except three — which coincidentally have been the same games — and they've lost all three of those contests. Kucherov has also scored a goal in 15 of 20 games this season. That's absurd when you consider he's scoring on a consistent basis; it's not like they're coming in spurts.

To put all that into perspective, he reached the 17-goal mark in his 36th game last year and still finished second in the league with 40 goals. He hit the 17-goal mark in 16 fewer games this season. How many can he realistically finish with? 60?

2. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

Tampa Bay knows how dangerous Chicago's dynamic duo can be as well, as evidenced in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. The Blackhawks' superstars know how to get up for a big game.

In 13 career regular-season games against the Lightning, Kane has 18 points (six goals, 12 assists). Toews has 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 14 games.

They're both producing at or above a point-per-game pace, and they're going to need more of that against this powerhouse Lightning team.

3. Something's gotta give.

Tampa Bay's offensive prowess is off the charts up and down the lineup. It has four lines that can come at you at waves, and a strong, active blue line led by potential Norris Trophy finalist Viktor Hedman and Calder Trophy candidate Mikhail Sergachev.

Although Chicago allows the fourth-most shots per game (34.0), it actually hasn't been bad at preventing goals — a large reason for that is Corey Crawford. 

The Lightning rank first in goals per game (3.95) and first in power play percentage (28.0) while the Blackhawks rank sixth in goals against per game (2.65) and four in penalty kill percentage (84.9).

Who's going to crack first?

Artem Anisimov keeps his vow, dons a mustache and raises his productivity in November

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USA TODAY

Artem Anisimov keeps his vow, dons a mustache and raises his productivity in November

Artem Anisimov wasn’t happy with his October.

The Blackhawks center struggled the first month of the season. Maybe it was adjusting to new line mates after being with the same two for two seasons. Maybe it was just a slow start. Maybe it was more than that. Regardless, Anisimov was frustrated. So as October turned to November, Anisimov told Patrick Sharp that he was going to get back on track.

“He’s scoring lots of goals and he said he was going to in the month of November,” Sharp recalled. “So he’s backing it up.”

Anisimov is doing that, recording five goals in his last three games including a hat trick against his former team, the New York Rangers, on Wednesday. Since November’s start, Anisimov has seven goals.

“My start of the season was not great,” Anisimov said. “But I keep working hard and be focused and say, ‘OK, November. I’m going to step up in November and forward.’”

When told of Anisimov’s prediction to Sharp, coach Joel Quenneville said, “well, now he set a precedent. We’ll have to look for it every month now.

“Quite a standard he was looking to achieve and got off to a great start here,” Quenneville said. “When Arty’s at the net he makes good plays, takes it to the net, draws some traffic to him and opens up other lanes behind him. I still think he has a purpose defensively, which he can add to that line.”

Anisimov’s resurgence coincides with the Blackhawks doing the same thing; after an up-and-down start, both are finding their rhythm again. For the Blackhawks it could be finding some line chemistry. For Anisimov it might be the same thing; he and Kane have been back together since Nov. 12, and those two and Nick Schmaltz have combined for a dynamic second line.

Or is it that mustache that Anisimov’s growing for Movember?

“I thought when you were saying what you were saying (about Anisimov’s vow), he made that statement when he got Kaner back on his line. But I think it was right when he shaved his beard into a mustache. That’s when he took off,” Jonathan Toews said with a laugh. “So that’s the biggest correlation right there.”

OK, teaming up with Kane again probably looms larger. The two have had great chemistry dating back to the 2015-16 season, when they first teamed with Artemi Panarin. Kane’s puck possession helps free Anisimov up to do his work at the net, and he’s been capitalizing there.

“He’s had a great month. He’s just one of those guys who gets to the front of the net and finds ways to be productive,” Kane said. “Maybe seven or eight games ago people were talking about how he was struggling and now he’s having a great start to the season. It shows how a few games can change that but he’s been great for us, not only scoring a lot of goals but a lot of big goals to get some wins.”

Still, hockey players are a superstitious lot. Players have ribbed Anisimov about the mustache — “I asked him to serve me a sparkling water on the airplane because he looks like a waiter in France or something,” Sharp said. But considering Anisimov’s mustache and the points sprouted at the same time, they’re now imploring Anisimov to keep it.

“Yep,” Anisimov said with a grin. “That’s true.”