Blackhawks

By the numbers: Are Blackhawks ahead of last season's Stanley Cup pace?

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By the numbers: Are Blackhawks ahead of last season's Stanley Cup pace?

When the Blackhawks were in the midst of their 12-game winning streak not that long ago – i.e., last week – I was asked one question several times: are these Blackhawks better than the 2014-15 Blackhawks?

Yes, I know they’ve lost three out of their last four games. That’s going to happen. But considering that 12-game winning streak was the Blackhawks’ longest in franchise history, they’re obviously doing something – make that a lot of things – right this season.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Coach Joel Quenneville doesn’t like to compare one season or one team to another. That’s understandable.

Still, that’s not stopping me. Comparing numbers is always fun, isn’t it? So since we’re starting the All-Star break and there sure as hell wasn’t anything to write about for the Blackhawks out of last night’s game, let’s look at the Blackhawks’ first 53 games this season compared to their first 53 (through Feb. 8, 2015) last season:

33-16-4 – Blackhawks’ record through 53 games this season (70 points).

33-18-2 – Blackhawks record through the same number of games last season (68 points).

12 – Longest winning streak this season, a franchise record.

8 – Longest winning streak last season.

28-12-2 – Corey Crawford’s record so far this season; that includes a league-best seven shutouts.

21-12-2 – Corey Crawford’s record to this point last season; that includes one shutout.

179:17 – Blackhawks’ longest road scoring drought this season (from Artem Anisimov’s goal 43 seconds into their game vs. Tampa Bay through Tuesday, which includes shutout losses to Florida and Carolina).

149:25 – Blackhawks’ longest road scoring drought last season (the final 6:35 against Anaheim on Jan. 30, 2015 until 2:50 into the second period against Winnipeg on Feb. 6, 2015. The Blackhawks were shut out twice in between, by San Jose (2-0) and Minnesota (3-0).

73 – Points Patrick Kane has through this season’s first 53 games; that includes a career-high 30 goals.

59 – Points Kane had through his first 53 games last season; that includes 26 goals.

7 – Blackhawks who made their NHL debut this season: Artemi Panarin, Erik Gustafsson, Dennis Rasmussen, Vincent Hinostroza, Tanner Kero, Viktor Svedberg and Mark McNeill.

7 – Blackhawks who made their NHL debut last season: Trevor van Riemsdyk, Kyle Baun, Phillip Danault, Ryan Hartman, Michael Paliotta, Adam Clendening and Klas Dahlbeck. 

10 – Players who were in the Blackhawks’ lineup in Game No. 53 last season who weren’t on Tuesday’s playing roster due to trade, reassignment or injury: David Rundblad, Patrick Sharp, Marcus Kruger, Brandon Saad, Johnny Oduya, Ben Smith, Bryan Bickell, Joakim Nordstrom, Brad Richards and Antti Raanta.*

*You can technically make this 11; Kris Versteeg was injured (broken hand) in early February 2015. 

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

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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?