Blackhawks

Blackhawks won't loan Kirby Dach to Canada for 2020 World Juniors

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks won't loan Kirby Dach to Canada for 2020 World Juniors

ST. LOUIS — The Blackhawks confirmed on Saturday that rookie forward Kirby Dach will remain in the NHL and not be loaned to Team Canada for the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship, which begins Dec. 26 and runs through Jan. 5 in the Czech Republic.

The Blackhawks weren't expected to send him, but their recent slide in the standings reignited the discussion as Team Canada was preparing to finalize its roster. Dach, who was taken No. 3 overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, would have played a significant role for his country, but the Blackhawks felt it was better for his development to stay in Chicago.

"Obviously, it was an opportunity that he had but he's playing really well," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I think he's getting better and better and his minutes are going up steadily and there's an opportunity for more if he continues to improve, so we didn't really want to lose that momentum. He's got an opportunity to take a bigger role as we go here and hopefully he can."

Dach has been a bright spot for the Blackhawks this season. He has 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 26 games and is averaging 12:03 of ice time. But he's pointless in his last 11 and probably could've used a reboot by going up against his peers at the World Juniors and playing in all situations.

After all, the Blackhawks sent defenseman prospect Henri Jokiharju to do exactly that last season and he helped lead Team Finland to a gold medal by eating up top pairing minutes and serving in a leadership role.

While he may be bummed about not getting that same opportunity, Dach understands the privilege it is to play in the NHL at 18 years old and that's where his mind is at.

"Obviously World Juniors is pretty big in Canada and growing up it's always a thing you dream of doing," said Dach, who won gold with Team Canada at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and recorded seven points (two goals, five assists) in the tournament. "Growing up I remember the Jordan Eberle goal against Team Russia and that's the golden moment that most Canadian kids will remember, is the goal he scored and they want to be that guy. To represent your country is a huge honor. But at the same time, I've been focused on being with the Blackhawks and helping them win each and every night. Obviously timing didn't work out, but I'm happy to be here. It's the NHL and it's the best league in the world, so I'm excited for the opportunity that I have here and to keep producing.

"It's the management's choice and whatever they say goes, right? So you don't want to upset the boss. For me, it's just about playing good and feeling good on the ice, and obviously I've got a good coaching staff and support staff around me that is helping develop me here. If I was able to go back for the World Juniors, it would be a huge honor, but I've played for Team Canada in the past and it's a fun time."

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Jonathan Toews leading the way for bounce-back Blackhawks

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USA Today

Jonathan Toews leading the way for bounce-back Blackhawks

Patrick Kane is the one a hair away from 1,000 career points, but Saturday night it seemed liked Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was the one hungry for a major milestone. 

Toews sits at 798 career points after a four-point outing (two goals, two assists) in the Hawks' 6-2 win in Toronto over the Maple Leafs, giving Chicago their fourth straight win and a perfect three-game road trip through Eastern Canada with the first two wins coming against the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens. 

After a mostly up-and-down season, the Hawks are now three games above .500 (23-20-6) and four points out of a Wild Card spot with two games at home (Sunday and Tuesday) before heading to the All-Star break. 

"We take it one game at a time and I think we're doing a great job of focusing on the task at hand and whatever situation we find ourselves in, we're playing good hockey," Toews said. "It's fun. I think we're playing a complete game right now. We're showing each other what our potential really is if we play the right way and we're getting the results for our hard work."

The Blackhawks captain has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in a five-game point streak. After a slow start to the season, the 2010 Conn Smythe trophy winner is performing beyond a point-a-game pace since Nov. 2. 

Toews scored five-hole on Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen at 5:32 of the first period, then scored on a wraparound at 3:19 of the second. He later assisted on Dominik Kubalik's goal to put the Hawks up 5-1 at 10:58 of the second and set up Kubalik's marker at 17:42 of the second to give Chicago a 6-2 lead and the final score.

"Not a whole lot of leads you feel comfortable with against this team," Toews said following the contest. "They're pretty explosive offensively, so I think all five guys were pretty cognizant of who you're playing against and just making sure we're trying to frustrate them, take away their ability to create and our offense kind of came from that."

The captain's assist on Kubalik's second goal of the game was one of the most impressive plays of the season across the league. Toews backhanded the puck towards the net from the right wall and Kubalik hit it in cleanly with his blade in mid-air in front of the net past Andersen.

"I (thought) it was maybe a foot or two lower, like on the ice," Toews said of his impressive pass from the boards. "It was probably more my intention, but just kind of floated one in there and as they say, you can't give a good player a bad pass, I tried my best on that one and he still found a way to get a stick on it."

Toews seems to have Andersen's number. He's scored 10 goals on the goalie in his career, including five during the regular season and five across seven days in the 2015 Western Conference final.

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3 Takeaways: Jonathan Toews grabs 4 points, Blackhawks grab 4-straight wins

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USA Today

3 Takeaways: Jonathan Toews grabs 4 points, Blackhawks grab 4-straight wins

Here are some takeaways from the Blackhawks fourth-straight win as Patrick Kane continues his quest for 1K:

Streaking Hawks

The Blackhawks won their fourth straight game on Saturday in Toronto 6-2. The victory gave the Hawks a perfect three-game sweep to close out their road trip in Eastern Canada. 

The Hawks won 3-2 against the Senators in Ottawa on Tuesday and 4-1 over the Canadiens in Montreal on Wednesday. 

Chicago is now three games over .500 (23-20-6) and four points out of a Wild Card spot. 

Drake Caggiula scored 21 seconds in to set the tone and put the Hawks ahead 1-0 with a trick shot, bouncing the puck over goalie Frederik Andersen's back, from behind the goal line and later picked up an assist. Caggiula has points in two straight after grabbing a goal and an assist in Montreal.

His energy and buzz around the net has been incredibly noticeable and something that's given Chicago a lift during the streak and since he returned from a concussion five games ago. 

The Blackhawks play the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday and the Florida Panthers on Tuesday (Q!!!!), both at the United Center before the All-Star break. 

Saad returns

Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad returned to the lineup after being sidelined since Dec. 19 with a right-ankle injury. The Hawks were missing the winger who can be effective anywhere in the lineup and was one of the most consistently good players on the team prior to his injury.

Saad was given a big opportunity on Saturday, being thrown on the left wing of the Hawks' second line with Ryan Carpenter centering and Patrick Kane on the right. 

Saad had 19 points (11 goals, eight assists) in 36 games with the Hawks this season before being injured. On Saturday, he scored at 11:02 of the first period, putting the Hawks up 3-0 and giving Kane, who assisted on the goal, career point No. 999.

Johnny be good

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews kept up his stellar play of late and extended his point streak to five games, grabbing four points in Toronto. 

Toews scored five-hole on Andersen at 5:32 of the first period, then scored on a wraparound at 3:19 of the second. He later assisted on Dominik Kubalik's goal to put the Hawks up 5-1 at 10:58 of the second.

Toews also set up Kubalik's marker at 17:42 of the second to give Chicago a 6-2 lead, backhanding the puck towards the net from the right wall to Kubalik, who hit it in cleanly with his blade in mid-air past Andersen.

Toews has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) during his streak. 

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