Now with Blackhawks, Richard Panik awaits opportunity


Now with Blackhawks, Richard Panik awaits opportunity

Richard Panik has that look of a guy who’s just happy to be here – finally.

“I was supposed to fly somewhere else to get the visa. Then I found out I could get it in Toronto but it still didn’t work out, so I had to wait,” Panik said with a smile.

But all that paperwork fun is now behind Panik, who donned a No. 14 jersey and participated in his first skate with the Blackhawks on Tuesday morning. Now he’s just ready to take advantage of the opportunity he could be getting.

Panik will not play when the Blackhawks host the Nashville Predators but coach Joel Quenneville said the latest acquisition will get in on the next trip, either in Montreal or Toronto. When the Blackhawks first acquired Panik on Jan. 3, Quenneville said he could get a shot on one of the team’s top lines – figure that to mean the first line, since Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane are still clicking on the second. That could still be a possibility, but Quenneville wants to get Panik going before figuring things out.

“It’s good to see him at least get here. He went through a tough process getting over the border but he’s here now,” Quenneville said. “We’ll get him on the ice and [get] a couple of skates for him before we determine whether he plays in Montreal or Toronto.”

[MORE HAWKS: Blackhawks lock up Joel Quenneville through 2019-20 season]

It won’t be easy to crack a lineup that’s won seven in a row coming into Tuesday’s game. But Quenneville said that wouldn’t be a reason to keep Panik out, either.

“It’s always something to consider,” Quenneville said. “Sometimes you have to measure the success. Sometimes you don’t want to change a winning lineup, which we normally don’t do. But a couple of games ago we changed, and the guy [Brandon Mashinter] comes in and scores a goal. So every game’s different. We’ll see.”

With Panik the Blackhawks get a left wing with some experience – 151 career NHL games. General manager Stan Bowman said he’s been looking at Panik as a possibility for some time.

“He's got a lot of talent and he's had some opportunities in the NHL,” Bowman. “He didn't really get an opportunity this year [in Toronto]. He's a big guy, he can skate, he's got good hands and I think he's just looking for that opportunity to find the right mix and hopefully it'll be a nice fit. We'll see here. We're just getting him going. Today was the first time we've had him on the ice and we'll give him a chance to get up to speed, but we're excited to see him in a game.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Panik was hoping to make the Maple Leafs this season but that didn’t happen. He was playing with the Leafs’ minor-league team, the Marlies, when he got word of the trade.

“I was excited,” said Panik, who understands breaking into and staying in this lineup won’t be easy. “It’s a good team. I have to earn a spot so I’ll do my best and hopefully it’ll work out for me.” 

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

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?