Blackhawks

Blackhawks can’t overcome mediocre start in overtime loss to Stars

Blackhawks can’t overcome mediocre start in overtime loss to Stars

The third period was an energetic one for the Blackhawks, at least through the first half of it. The shots were there. So were the good scoring opportunities. So was the necessary urgency. Before that, however…

“Yeah, just not really much going on,” Patrick Kane said of the first two periods of the Blackhawks’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars. “I thought we had the puck and then we gave it away and it was tough to get it back. We started buzzing a little bit in the third and had some momentum which was good to see. But not much really going on. I think we had 10 shots after two, which is unacceptable.”

It was an unacceptable opening 40 minutes for the Blackhawks, who could use every point they can get in an already tight Central Division. The good work they’ve built up through most of November wasn’t there enough on Thursday. The power play was listless. The shot count wasn’t acceptable until late. After so many consistent games, the Blackhawks took a bit of a step back against the Stars.

“Good first 10 minutes of the third. We slowed down a bit again after we tied it up,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We didn’t have enough pace with the puck, pressure on the puck or enough of the puck. And what we did with it, we gave them a lot of quality opportunities because we didn’t keep it or protect it.”

If there was any consistency it came from Alex DeBrincat and Artem Anisimov. The Blackhawks had 41 goals in November, and DeBrincat and Anisimov combined for 19 of them.

“Both had great months. Cat went to a higher level than we’ve seen, tremendous upside, a threat every time he was out there tonight,” Quenneville said. “Arty’s been consistent as well, productive, net presence, defensively responsible, so he’s had a great month and we need arty to keep going and we need some guys to get going.”

And that’s got to be the mantra for the Blackhawks from here on out. At times in November, it looked like they were righting the ship. They were playing better hockey, finally scoring goals after starting the month in an offensive drought. But there are still too many who aren’t bringing the consistent performances. The top line had a so-so night. Richard Panik is struggling mightily; as Quenneville said, if he’s not scoring he at least has to bring the physical element more.

The Blackhawks did some good on Thursday but not enough. The production through most of this one was, as Kane said, unacceptable. There’s a lot of season left but the Blackhawks are already fighting for position in the standings, and they’ll see the Stars again on Saturday night. The Blackhawks started trending in the right direction in November but they need more. It won’t be getting any easier.

“Disappointing, obviously. We just needed to get the win. In the standings we had a tie before that game. We needed to find a way to make points, win the game,” Artem Anisimov said. “It’s going to be a big game for both teams [on Saturday].”

NHL Draft Profile: D Adam Boqvist

NHL Draft Profile: D Adam Boqvist

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Adam Boqvist

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 168 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"Boqvist is a finesse defenseman who is very skilled, possesses excellent vision and tons of talent. He is fun to watch and full of surprises on the ice. He often plays bigger than his size and skated in his first games with Sweden's Senior National Team in April."

NHL player comparable: Erik Karlsson

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks would love to have Karlsson, who is probably being traded out of Ottawa this summer. Every team would love to have him. But that's not realistic for Chicago. So what if they drafted his potential mini me?

Boqvist is electric with the puck and has drawn comparisons to the Swedish defenseman as a best-case scenario.

There are two concerns, though. One is that he may need some time to develop at just 17 years old and his defense a work in progress. The second is that he's sustained head injuries over the course of his young career, which adds a little bit of risk to the equation.

If he can stay healthy and his development isn't rushed, there's major upside here. But are the Blackhawks willing to be patient? We're not so sure.

Should the Blackhawks explore bringing back Artemi Panarin?

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USA TODAY

Should the Blackhawks explore bringing back Artemi Panarin?

Here's an interesting development as we approach the NHL Draft: Artemi Panarin has informed the Blue Jackets that he's not ready to consider an extension "at this time" and because of that, Columbus is testing the market for the Russian winger, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.

Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen responded to the report shortly after in a statement released by the team:

"Artemi is an elite National Hockey League player. Our position has been that we want him to be a Blue Jacket for many years and that has not changed. He has a year left on his contract, so there is plenty of time to work towards that end. Should anything change moving forward, we will address it at that time and any decision we make will be in the best interest of our club.”

Ironically, Panarin was traded to Columbus on the afternoon of last year's draft as part of a blockbuster package that sent Brandon Saad back to Chicago. It shook up the hockey world, and has the potential to do so again.

Panarin is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019, but is free to sign an extension with Columbus on July 1. Clearly, that doesn't seem to be in the cards right now and it's why the Blue Jackets have to put out feelers. They can't risk losing him for nothing.

On the flip side, Panarin has every right to test the open market. He has one year left on his contract that carries a $6 million cap hit. He's due for a hefty raise, will be 27 years old next summer — the prime of his hockey career — and will certainly be looking for a long-term deal after accepting a bridge contract with the Blackhawks.

Speaking of whom, should his former team explore bringing him back to Chicago now that he's on the market?

Every general manager should and will do their due diligence and call for an asking price, Stan Bowman included. Those conversations might start with Alex DeBrincat or Nick Schmaltz, and if that's the case, you say thanks but no thanks and move on. 

The Blackhawks have the Nos. 8 and 27 picks in this year's draft as possible ammunition, but the Blue Jackets are ready to take that next step. They were up 2-0 in their first-round series before losing four straight to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. It's unlikely they'd be looking to center a potential deal around draft picks. 

The only way you even consider it from the Blackhawks perspective is if Panarin is guaranteed to sign a long-term extension at a price you're comfortable with, but that's one of the main reasons why they traded him in the first place. 

To cap it all off, trading for Panarin wouldn't even address the Blackhawks' biggest need and that's a Top 4 defenseman. Those don't grow on trees. The Blackhawks will have the cap space to sign a player like James van Riemsdyk to patch up their top 6. You can't say the same for the free-agent blue line group.

So while it may certainly be fun for Blackhawks fans to come up with possible trade scenarios to get Panarin back in an Indianhead sweater, it just doesn't make great sense for a variety of reasons.