Winnipeg Jets

What should the Blackhawks do in goal next season?

What should the Blackhawks do in goal next season?

The last time the Blackhawks were in Winnipeg they exploded for three first-period goals en route to a 5-1 victory on Dec. 14.

The roles were reversed on Thursday.

It appeared the Blackhawks might be headed for another drubbing when Brandon Saad scored 11 seconds into the game and they were awarded an ensuing power play following a failed offside challenge by the home team, but the Jets killed it off then responded with five unanswered goals over the next 11:53 and didn't look back as Chicago lost 6-2.

Anton Forsberg was pulled for the sixth time in his 27th start this season after allowing three goals on six shots, while J-F Berube gave up two goals on his first five shots before stopping 27 straight. It was the 14th time the Blackhawks allowed five or more goals in a game this season, having done that only eight times last season.

Needless to say, it's been a roller coaster in goal as of late.

To make matters worse, the Blackhawks aren't as optimistic about Corey Crawford returning before the season ends and maybe that's for the better.

But there's a big question mark between the pipes when you factor in Crawford's health and the inconsistency from their backups, which has included Jeff Glass, Forsberg and Berube.

The Blackhawks weren't expecting Forsberg to be the next Scott Darling when they included him in the trade package involving Saad and Artemi Panarin this past offseason, but they were certainly hoping he would be around the league average in save percentage (.913).

Instead, it's slipped to .905, which ranks 43rd of 52 goaltenders that have started at least 20 games this season. That's also his 5-on-5 save percentage, which is 49th out of 52 among goalies with 800-plus minutes of ice time.

When it rains, it often pours with Forsberg in net and he hasn't shown signs of progression to prevent the bleeding from getting worse.

The backup goaltending position is more important than ever in this day and age, especially for the Blackhawks with Crawford likely going into next year having not faced a shot in game action in nine months.

For those reasons, it might be wise for the Blackhawks to strongly consider rolling with Berube as the No. 2 to at least start next season if an external option isn't the preferred direction.

It would allow Forsberg to fine-tune his mechanics, build his confidence and continue his overall development with the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League, where he backstopped the Lake Erie Monsters to their first ever Calder Cup championship in Columbus Blue Jackets franchise history two years ago.

Berube and Forsberg are both under contract for the Blackhawks in 2018-19, and it's no secret there's a belief within the organization that Forsberg has a higher ceiling. He just hasn't been able to reach it yet in the NHL for whatever reason.

There are 11 games left, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Berube get more than half of those.

Yes, his save percentage is one percentage point below Forsberg's at .904. But three of his eight appearances have come in relief.

In his five starts, he has a .908 percentage; in his three relief appearances, it's at .893.

Berube deserves a longer look, one that could carry weight when determining next season's backup.

Jeff Glass stands tall in Blackhawks' win over Jets

Jeff Glass stands tall in Blackhawks' win over Jets

Now that's what you call a goalie win.

Jeff Glass earned every bit of the Blackhawks' 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night, recording 31 saves at the United Center.

Glass came up large a numerous amount of times, stopping Jets' Kyle Connor on a breakaway, Mathieu Perreault point-blank, and had a huge save in the final minutes of the game.

"He was great today," said coach Joel Quenneville. "Some key saves, key breakaways, several big stops there at the end, several big stops at the end, open side play, one timer, had a couple of breaks at the end, as well. But you like how he battles, how he competes, and found a way to get us two points."

The only goal Glass allowed was an absolute snipe by Patrik Laine, which came with 3:41 left in the third.

"Honestly it was a great shot," Glass said. "He's got one of the best releases in the league and he proved it on that shot. I tip my hat to him – he put it right in the corner. Move on and get ready for the next shot."

On the season, Glass is 3-1-1 in five starts with a .918 save percentage. Those numbers are much-needed with Corey Crawford out with an upper-body injury.

"It was a great team effort," Glass said. "I know that cliché gets used but it really was. We checked hard all game. We really did make my life easy. It was a lot of outside shots, a lot of blocked shots. Total team effort."

Though he didn't get the shutout — which would've been the first of his career — Glass was pumped when the final buzzer sounded.

It was a great night for Glass, and another Blackhawks rookie.

David Kampf registered his first career goal after redirecting a Connor Murphy shot in the first period. It was also his first multi-point game, assisting on a goal scored by Jan Rutta in the second period.

The best part? It came on his 23rd birthday.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to get back in win column against red-hot Jets

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to get back in win column against red-hot Jets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Winnipeg Jets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Anthony Duclair's Blackhawks debut?

In a move that could benefit both sides, the Blackhawks acquired Duclair from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Richard Panik, and Joel Quenneville said Wednesday after the game that they'll look to get him into the lineup right away.

Duclair, 22, has nine goals and six assists in 33 games this season. There's high upside to the speedy, offensively-gifted winger, with Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman saying Duclair "brings the ability to be a really electrifying player."

The top two lines appear to be solidified for now, so expect Duclair to slide in somewhere among the bottom six, perhaps the fourth line with Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels which will help ease him into the system.

2. Can Nick Schmaltz keep rolling?

In 13 games last month, Schmaltz had eight points (three goals, five assists). He's already matched that point total in five games in January, scoring five goals and adding three assists during his five-game point streak.

He's been sensational as of late, and it's come at a convenient time as Artem Anisimov continues to recover from an upper-body injury. It will certainly make things interesting once Anisimov is ready to return, but Schmaltz is looking like the player the Blackhawks thought he could be when they started him at second-line center alongside Patrick Kane to start the season.

Only Kane (45) has more points than Schmaltz (32) on the team this season, and the latter maybe wouldn't be too far off had he not missed four games in October with a lower-body injury.

3. Stay out of the box.

The Blackhawks are tied for 10th in penalty kill percentage (82.3) and are 10-for-10 in their last four games, but they need to do everything in their power to stay out of the box as much as possible.

The Jets have the second-ranked power play in the league (25.6 percent), and have scored with the man advantage in six straight games (9-for-23 for a 39.1 percent success rate over that span). And they're doing it without one of their best offensive weapons in Mark Scheifele, who's out with an upper-body injury and won't return for another month.

Still, Winnipeg is loaded with offensive talent that includes Nikolaj Ehlers, Patrik Laine and Blake Wheeler up front and Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers on the back end.