Blackhawks

Kids, Toews fuel Blackhawks in blowout of Buffalo

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Kids, Toews fuel Blackhawks in blowout of Buffalo

Updated: Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 9:58 p.m.

Jimmy Hayes said theres no I-can-top-you battle in scoring and outings between him and fellow rookie Andrew Shaw.

If there was, the Chicago Blackhawks might want to encourage it.

Hayes and Shaw each had a goal and an assist as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Buffalo Sabres 6-2 on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks, with 62 points, are back atop the Central Division and Western Conference standings.

It was another all-around team effort for the Blackhawks, who have won four of their last five and have gotten points in each of their last six games. Jonathan Toews scored two power-play goals he now has 26 goals on the season and Dave Bolland and Marian Hossa also scored. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook added two assists each.

The Blackhawks also had another goal disallowed when it was ruled Shaw made a hand pass on the ice. He didnt, and Marcus Kruger wouldve been the scorer, but the play was not reviewable. But the Blackhawks kept going in the third period, making the no-goal a mere afterthought.

And while everyone has contributed, the rookie performances continue to impress. Shaw and Hayes are bringing youthful energy and determination, and something the Blackhawks needed a little more of a constant drive to the net.

The kids are making it look easy at times.

Its definitely not easy. Its just being in the right spots at the right tine, going hard at the net, said Hayes. (Shaw) scored that pretty goal but all of mine have been right around the net. Just go to the net.

For Shaw, it was his fourth goal in as many games and his first career assist.

You cant get too comfortable, he said. The nerves are still there, but you just go in and do it with the mindset that this is another hockey game, play like youve been playing and you wont have a problem. I dont know if Im making it look easy, but Im playing with great guys, going hard to the net and things are bound to happen.

Whatever works. And on Wednesday, there were a lot things working right for the Blackhawks. They scored on two of four power plays both from Toews kept pushing the pace throughout and fired 35 shots on Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth.

Weve had a good couple games here. All the guys are rolling and that makes a difference, Keith said. Everyones clicking out there, contributing and doing the right thing. If we play like that, most of the times good things will happen.

There are a lot of good things happening right now for the Blackhawks. Yes, the Western Conference will continue to be tight; it always is. But theyre getting big points with a big player sitting on the sidelines. Its a testament to the depth of this team and to the opportunistic rookies who have added to it.

Its making a huge difference for our team right now that all four lines are working and making things happen, Toews said. It doesnt matter who were playing against if we play that smart defensive game and we roll four lines the way we have. All four lines can score right now and its good to see that confidence as a team.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Seth Gruen (Big Ten Unfiltered) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) join Kap on the panel. 

The Blackhawks drop their 8th straight. So should their “One Goal” be to tank?

Plus, Jon Lester isn’t a fan of the new pace of play proposals. Is he right?

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

After losing their eighth straight game and falling 12 points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, the Blackhawks' playoff chances have dipped to a season-low 0.2 percent. It would take a miracle for them to extend their postseason streak to 10 at this point, where getting just one win seems like a monumental task.

The Blackhawks were probably never really going to be buyers before the Feb. 26 trade deadline even if they were still in the hunt, but it's hard to imagine they had plans to be sellers. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has reiterated over and over again that he's confident in this group, one that's getting younger and faster.

But now they've reached a territory where they have to consider selling off spare parts simply to coup some draft picks or prospects that they could perhaps retain or use as sweeteners in the offseason.

So which players could the Blackhawks realistically sell?

Let's start with the two players getting rewarded with top-six ice time as of late: Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels.

These are two players that play with high energy and go to the greasy areas, something that's important in the playoffs when scoring goals becomes more difficult. They can clean up rebounds. Wingels, particularly, likely has more value and it's showing given his recent success on the power play as a net-front presence guy. He also isn't a stranger to the playoffs with 54 games under his belt compared to Bouma's five.

Both of them are pending unrestricted free agents and are making $1 million or fewer, which certainly works in the Blackhawks' favor considering they won't cost much and their cap hits are easy to fit in on any interested team.

Maybe a team would like to take a flyer on Tomas Jurco, who's a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but that would be a move somebody makes as more of a longer term project than strengthening your depth for a playoff run this spring.

On the back end, Michal Kempny and Jan Rutta could be in play for a contender looking to ensure some depth as a sixth or seventh defenseman. Again, each of them are making less than $1 million so it's a low-risk situation for clubs whose Plan A or B fall through and may be interested in at least getting something.

While they don't have much NHL experience, they're both 27 years old and have played the sport long enough to know what they can bring to the table.

Once Feb. 26 passes and potential roster spots open up, expect the Blackhawks to start calling up the kids. 

Matthew Highmore deserves a look after leading the Rockford IceHogs with 20 goals and 32 points. John Hayden has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 15 games since joining Rockford, and belongs in the NHL. Even Anthony Louis, who's taken a step forward, should get a taste of the action as he continues his development.

Carl Dahlstrom is getting his shot now. Erik Gustafsson is in that process as well. Gustav Forsling had another extended look during the first half of the season before the team decided it would be wise to continue his development in Rockford, where he can play top-pairing minutes.

All of this would give the Blackhawks a better indicator of how they can approach the upcoming offseason, and which young guys they can possibly add into the mix for 2018-19. But first, we have to see how the end of February plays out before making those calls.