Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom hasn't slowed down at age 41 and Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane is sick of it. "Every year he has one of those years where you're just like... you hope he retires,"the 23-year-old forwardtold mlive.com. "I'm kind of sick of playing against him. He's an unbelievable player." Last season Lidstrom finished a minus-2 but managed to win his seventh Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman. "It's pretty amazing," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told mlive.com. "You got to commend him on how he prepares himself, how he conditions himself. You look back over time, the intelligence level of top-end players, Nick's got to be in that elite, elite class. He's just always in the right spot." In 261 games and 3,814 shots on goal in his career, Lidstrom has netted 261 with 870 assists including 25 game-winning goals. As for retiring, Lidstrom won't decide until after the season and according to mlive.com coach Mike Babcock hopes the realignment will convince him to continue to play. "I'm a big believer that's why Mr. Bettman (NHL commissioner Gary) changed the schedule, so Nick wouldn't ahve to travel as far and he'd play longer," Babcock joked. "That's a rumor I started, go ahead and run with it."Do you think it's time for Lidstrom to hang up his skates?
Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night:
1. That's how you start a game.
The Blackhawks haven't had the best of starts over the last couple weeks or so — aside from their recent four-goal first period against New Jersey. But they flew out of the gates in Pittsburgh.
Chicago recorded 27 shot attempts (11 on goal) in the opening frame compared to Pittsburgh's 13 attempts (nine on goal), and led in the even-strength scoring chances department 11-2.
Two of those chances were breakaways from Nick Schmaltz and Jonathan Toews, but both were denied by Matt Murray. The Blackhawks cashed in on one of two power play opportunities, however, and took a 1-0 lead into the second.
2. Power play strikes again.
Speaking of power plays, the Blackhawks came up empty on their first one of the game, but they were handed another one 44 seconds later at the midway mark of the first and capitalized when Gustav Forsling slipped one five-hole past Murray.
It's the third consecutive game the Blackhawks have scored on the man advantage, something they hadn't done since Oct. 7-12 when they scored in four straight. It's also the second consecutive game the power play unit netted the game winner.
The Blackhawks are 5-for-13 (38.5 percent) on the power play in their last three games after going 5-for-53 (9.4 percent) in their previous 12.
3. Should Blackhawks have pushed back immediately following Corey Crawford injury?
A scary moment occurred in the second period when Evgeni Malkin swiped Crawford in the mask while racing for a loose puck, forcing the Blackhawks netminder to exit before returning a few minutes later.
Malkin was given a two-minute minor penalty for goaltender interference, but should the Blackhawks have stood up for Crawford at the expense of getting tagged with a penalty themselves?
No question a power play opportunity with a chance to make it a two-goal game at that stage of the game — and against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions who hadn't lost in regulation at home this season going into the matchup — is important, but the Blackhawks' lack of retaliation was a bit surpising.
It wasn't a dirty play by Malkin by any means, but there's a principle involved when your goaltender gets hit like that. Those are the kinds of penalties you shouldn't mind taking, and at the very worst it would've been 4-on-4 hockey with one of Pittsburgh's best forwards in the box.
4. Artem Anisimov stays hot.
The goals keep coming for No. 15.
After the Penguins tied it up at 1-1 in the third period with a shorthanded goal, Anisimov scored 21 seconds later on the power play to put the Blackhawks back in front 2-1.
Anisimov now has nine goals in his last 10 games after scoring just one goal in his first 10 to start the season. He also has four game-winning goals on the season, all of which have come this month. Brandon Saad leads the NHL with five.
5. Alex DeBrincat extends point streak.
Lost in the shuffle was the Blackhawks' top rookie getting on the scoresheet once again.
With an assist on Forsling's power play goal in the first period, DeBrincat extended his point streak to four games. He has four goals and two assists in that span, and is averaging a point per game over his last nine (six goals and three assists).
DeBrincat also moved into a three-way tie with Richard Panik and Toews for second on the team with 13 points.
It’s official: The Blackhawks are headed back outdoors.
The NHL announced that the 2019 Winter Classic will be held at Notre Dame Stadium, featuring the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1.
"The Blackhawks and Bruins, two of our most historic franchises, will be meeting outdoors for the first time at the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "Notre Dame Stadium, with its capacity approaching 80,000, will provide an ideal setting for this ground-breaking event and will host the largest live audience ever to witness a game by either of these teams."
"The Chicago Blackhawks are honored to be participating in this marquee event at an iconic venue like Notre Dame Stadium," Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough said in a statement. "The University of Notre Dame has strong alumni roots in both Chicago and Boston, and, with an established rivalry between the Blackhawks and Bruins, fans will be treated to an exciting game in a unique atmosphere. We appreciate the invitation to the game and look forward to what will be a great day for both franchises and the National Hockey League."
It's the sixth time the Blackhawks will be playing outdoors, and their league-leading fourth Winter Classic. The Blackhawks are 1-4-0 in outdoor games, and are winless in three Winter Classic games.
Chicago's only outdoor win came against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2014 Stadium Series Classic, a 5-1 victory at Soldier Field.