Blackhawks

Be back soon? Blackhawks really missing Nick Schmaltz

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USA TODAY

Be back soon? Blackhawks really missing Nick Schmaltz

Nick Schmaltz skated around with his teammates on Thursday morning. It was an encouraging sign, given the nasty hit he took against the Columbus Blue Jackets last Saturday.

“Getting better every day,” said Schmaltz, sporting a shiner around his left eye. “Hopefully I can get in there on Saturday (vs. Nashville).”

When a player gets hurt the Blackhawks preach the same mantras as every other team: it’s an opportunity for someone else, others have to step up, insert next sports-ism here. But finding answers in Schmaltz’s absence hasn’t been as simple as plugging in another center on the second line, even someone as familiar with it as Artem Anisimov. Without Schmaltz, the line chemistry the Blackhawks hoped to have early on has diminished.

It’s a testament to the strides Schmaltz has taken, be it with his speed, playmaking or overall game, that the Blackhawks miss him this much. The second line’s dip in production is one thing but it goes beyond that. Right now the Blackhawks are a one-line team (the top line of Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik).

The Ryan Hartman, Anisimov and Patrick Kane combination had been so-so entering Thursday night, when coach Joel Quenneville wanted to give it another try vs. the Minnesota Wild – “we feel that line, there’s enough there to get it going and Kaner, you can still use him in other places with other lines and you can get something for the other team to be worried about as well,” Quenneville said on Thursday morning. But it still wasn’t yielding much. Considering Kane and Anisimov played the better part of two seasons together, it’s surprising that they haven’t connected now like they did in the past.

“It’s more like time apart. We played all training camp with different partners and we’re adjusting,” said Anisimov, who’s been the Blackhawks’ third-line center since the start of camp. “A little bit of chemistry is there but it’s not clicking like it’s supposed to be. We just need to find a way to get clicking again.”

By the third period on Thursday, however, Quenneville put Tanner Kero at second-line center with Hartman and Kane. Hartman scored his second goal of the season, with Kero and Kane assisting. It was something but again, the Blackhawks are back to making a number of line swaps to rekindle production.

“Yeah, [Schmaltz’s presence] brings a lot of balance. He’s got a lot of speed and it makes the defense second guess and have to back in a little bit, gives the wingers extra time and gives us a net drive,” Hartman said. “He’s definitely a key part to this team and our success and we’re looking forward to having him back soon.”

The Blackhawks are like any other team: if someone’s hurt, you have to find someone else to fill the void. But Schmaltz was a big part of that second line clicking and the Blackhawks are missing him a lot right now.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Round 1 of the 2018 NHL Draft.

They discuss the pair of puck-carrying defensemen that the Blackhawks selected on Friday, Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin. When can we expect to see these first-round picks play in the NHL?

Boyle also goes 1-on-1 with Boqvist and Beaudin. The guys spoke with Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville on Friday.

The guys also share their biggest takeaways from those interviews, which includes your daily Corey Crawford update and Quenneville appeared excited that the team has plenty of cap space to spend in free agency.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Blackhawks add another defenseman to pipeline, draft Nicolas Beaudin at No. 27

Blackhawks add another defenseman to pipeline, draft Nicolas Beaudin at No. 27

DALLAS — Despite taking Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, the Blackhawks took a second defenseman at No. 27 with the selection of Nicolas Beaudin.

Beaudin is a 5-foot-11, 172-pound defenseman who prides himself on playing strong at both ends of the ice and tries modeling his game after Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins.

"I’m a two-way defenseman," Beaudin said. "I can provide offense, too. I’ve got a great IQ. I think in my zone I’m just getting better and better."

Beaudin is also a left-handed shot, which is something the Blackhawks could use more of in the organization along the blue line when it comes to impact-type players.

"Nicolas is a very efficient defender," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "He’s got a really nice skill set. He makes the game look pretty easy. He’s a smooth player, not a lot of panic to his game. He’s a good skater so when he has to turn back and get to the puck he can get there first. Usually he just gets his setup and makes the simple play.

"You watch him play and he makes it look really easy. He’s not a guy that’s getting run over a lot. He’s not a real big player, but he uses his brain really well and he had over a point a game, too. He’s got a good feel for making plays and scoring points."

The 18-year-old registered 69 points (12 goals, 57 assists) in 68 games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL, and added three goals and eight assists in 10 postseason contests.

Beaudin is the third defenseman the Blackhawks have taken in the first round the last two years, with Henri Jokiharju and Boqvist being the other two.

"It’s a winning culture in Chicago," Beaudin said. "They won a lot. I know they’ve got some young guys coming in. For sure in the next few years I want to earn my place and I want to try to learn a lot from a guy like Duncan Keith."