Blackhawks

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 3-1 bounce-back win over Canadiens

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USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 3-1 bounce-back win over Canadiens

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night:

1. Salvaging a slow start.

The Blackhawks have dominated the first period through three games this season, having outscored their opponents 9-0 in the opening frame entering Tuesday's game. They got off to their worst start of the year in this one though, allowing the Canadiens to strike first just 1:15 into the contest and were outshot 14-2 halfway through the period.

But the Blackhawks salvaged their slow start by scoring two goals in 19 seconds towards the latter stages of the period, and took a lead into the second for the fourth straight game.

2. Alex DeBrincat scores his first of many goals in the NHL.

We teased the possibility of it in our Three Things to Watch, but the Blackhawks' top prospect is officially on the board. The 19-year-old winger snapped a three-game goal drought to open the season by blasting one past arguably the league's best goaltender in Carey Price for his first career tally.

On the play, DeBrincat received a short pass from Patrick Sharp, adjusted his body quickly to get into a shooting position and slapped it home from one of his main sweet spots. He also registered an assist later in the game for his first multi-point effort of his career.

Side note: DeBrincat committed a third-period turnover that led to a breakaway, but his strong backcheck helped disrupt the shot. That's something coaches will certainly appreciate when looking back at the tape.

3. Corey Crawford continues domination against hometown team.

For the second straight game, the Blackhawks perhaps got bailed out by great goaltendering. The Montreal native was outstanding in his hometown return, and he had to be from the very beginning.

The Canadiens peppered the Blackhawks with 14 shots on goal in the first 10 minutes of the game, and finished the contest with a season-high 42 of them. Crawford stopped all but one of them in the win, and improved to 8-0-2 with a 1.49 goals against average and .954 save percentage in 10 career games against Montreal.

The most important save of the game came on a shorthanded breakaway in the second period, which happened shortly before the Blackhawks scored on the power play to take a 3-1 lead. The score wouldn't change the rest of the way.

Crawford has now allowed only one goal in each of his first three games, and increased his season save percentage to .971. A darkhorse Vezina Trophy candidate? 

4. Penalty kill steps up.

Crawford was the biggest reason the Blackhawks won, but the penalty kill unit is a close second. They were a perfect 5-for-5 in that department against a team still searching for its first power play goal of the season.

Early in the first, the Blackhawks killed off a 5-on-3 penalty that could've changed the complexion of the game but their unit stood tall.

Tanner Kero and Tommy Wingels were very noticeable in their own ends, combining for four blocked shots and breaking up a handful of plays with active sticks. It was an all around great effort.

5. Cody Franson's debut could've been better.

Connor Murphy was a health scratch in only his fourth game with the Blackhawks, but it was likely more about getting another defenseman some reps on the second of a back-to-back rather than his on-ice play. And with the Gustav Forsling-Jan Rutta pairing shining and Franson being a right-handed shot, it makes sense why Murphy was taken out instead of the left-handed shot Michal Kempny.

As far of Franson's debut went, it wasn't bad but it wasn't great. He committed a pair of penalties (tripping and slashing) but it didn't cost his team thanks to the penalty kill coming through in the clutch, as we mentioned above.

Franson finished the game with 16:41 of ice time, recorded an assist on Anisimov's goal, and had four shot attempts (two on goal).

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.

NHL Draft Profile: F Filip Zadina

NHL Draft Profile: F Filip Zadina

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

Filip Zadina

Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-0
Weight: 195 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"He's got the puck skills, is a good skater, and is a guy with some high-end offensive talent. He wants to get right in there and play where it's hard and where you get rewarded. When he gets that puck on his stick, he wants to bury it."

NHL player comparable: Marian Hossa

Fit for Blackhawks:

You know who the Blackhawks missed last year? Hossa. It's not mentioned enough when analyzing what went wrong in 2017-18. 

Well, Zadina is a player who's got the upside of Hossa and is one of a few prospects who could potentially crack the NHL lineup this upcoming season. The scouting report above is all you need to know about Zadina's style of play, and Blackhawks fans surely nodded through the whole thing because it's exactly what the team is looking for.

However, this is a case where the Blackhawks would have to trade up to snag him if they want him, because there's little chance he'll be on the board when the eighth pick rolls around. And it's probably unlikely they would do so, given what it may take to move up a few spots.