Rookies make Coach Q, teammates take notice


Rookies make Coach Q, teammates take notice

PHILADELPHIA Rookies are supposed to be jittery in their first few professional games, noticeable for all the wrong reasons.

Tell that to the Blackhawks three new guys.

Jimmy Hayes scored his second goal in as many games and Andrew Shaw scored his first NHL goal on his first NHL shot of his first NHL game in the Blackhawks 5-4 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday night. Those two, as well as fellow rookie defenseman Dylan Olsen, had solid outings and earned good reviews from their teammates and coaches.

I liked them, I liked them all, said coach Joel Quenneville in a game he otherwise called a brutal loss. They all did a good job.

Jonathan Toews was also impressed, especially with his linemate Shaw.

Andrew went right in there and made things happen right off the bat, he said. Its natural for anyone, even the skill players when they play that first game like that, to be out of synch or have timing issues a bit. But it seems like Andrew was doing the right things, chipping pucks in the right spots.

Shaw will have a few stories out of his first NHL game. The scrappy forward started on the Blackhawks top line, and made a nifty move and backhand to record his first career score. He also did what he does best, fighting Flyers center and old Ontario Hockey League nemesis Zac Rinaldo in the first period.

He challenged me there, I dont like saying no so I decided to square off with him, said Shaw, who brandished stitches in a cut above his left eye. I knew how hed fight; he just keeps throwing. He caught me with one off the start but I got him with a few as well.

Shaw said he was nervous coming onto the ice to start tonight, but once the puck dropped its just another game of hockey. Its nice to get the first one out of the way.

Olsen, called up on Wednesday with Steve Montador on injured reserve, played a little less than 10 minutes on Thursday night. He had three shots on goal and a blocked shot.

Hayes, meanwhile, got another goal when he redirected Jamal Mayers pass to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead in the first period. That fourth line was applying plenty of pressure on Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, and Hayes and Michael Frolik each had four shots on goal.

The Blackhawks have been giving a few of their Rockford players auditions. These three are the latest. Its hard to say how theyll do in their next game or so, or even how long theyll be here. But on Thursday, they were all noticeable for the right reasons.

Its great to see those young guys pushing, Toews said. The rest of us need to follow that.

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?