Blackhawks

Five takeaways from Blackhawks 5-1 win over Jets: Offensive contributions everywhere

Five takeaways from Blackhawks 5-1 win over Jets: Offensive contributions everywhere

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night:

1. A perfect start.

Against a high-powered Jets offense that leads the league in first-period goals (40) and ranked fourth in goals per game (3.41) entering Thursday, the Blackhawks made sure to throw the kitchen sink at Winnipeg in the opening frame.

The Blackhawks scored two goals on their first two shots thanks to Vinnie Hinostroza netting his first of the season and Tommy Wingels scoring his third in four games, and Nick Schmaltz later made it three goals on five shots when he redirected Duncan Keith's shot from the point.

The Blackhawks as a team recorded 24 shot attempts (12 on goal) and generated nine 5-on-5 scoring chances compared to 12 attempts (six on goal) and two scoring chances for the Jets. 

2. Bottom six delivers.

Not only did the Blackhawks score five goals, but they got contributions from all over the lineup, particularly the bottom six yet again. Hinostroza and Wingels set the tone early, and their offense trickled down to the top six. 

On the first goal, Patrick Sharp made a nice play to keep the puck in the offensize zone, capitalizing on a Tyler Myers turnover and sliding a perfect pass to Hinostroza for the one-timer. 

On the second, Lance Bouma's first pass attempt to Wingels from behind the net was blocked by a Jets forward but his second one got through and Wingels made no mistake in snapping it past Connor Hellebuyck.

It's the fourth time in the last five games the Blackhawks have gotten a goal from their fourth line, and the first goal from the third line since Alex DeBrincat was moved up to the first with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad.

3. That pass by Schmaltz...

Already on the scoresheet with a goal in the first period, Schmaltz decided to add to his highlight reel in the way he knows how to do it best.

A little past the midway mark of the second period, Schmaltz jumped on a rebound and fired an unbelievable no-look pass right on Kane's tape, who buried home his second goal in as many games to give the Blackhawks a 4-0 lead.

Kane's reaction said it all:

4. Corey Crawford stays sharp.

In their biggest test to date, the Blackhawks needed their netminder to be on his A-game and he was, not surprisingly, up to the task.

With a 27-save performance, Crawford improved to 8-0-2 in his last 10 starts and hasn't lost a regulation game since Nov. 12 against New Jersey. He's allowed two goals or fewer in each of his last four games, and has a .952 save percentage over that span. He also has given up just one goal or fewer in 10 of 24 starts this season.

Crawford's overall save percentage jumped to .934, moving him into a tie with Andrei Vasilevskiy for the league lead among starters.

5. Blackhawks blue liners making things difficult for Joel Quenneville.

When Cody Franson went down with a lower-body injury, it was Jordan Oesterle who got the call to slide into the top pairing with Duncan Keith and he hasn't missed a beat despite being a healthy scratch in 11 straight.

With Jan Rutta (upper body) out, Michal Kempny got back in the lineup for the first time in 14 games and he made sure to make his presence felt.

He logged 16:30 of ice time, registered five shot attempts (three on goal), a blocked shot and scored the Blackhawks' fifth goal of the game with an absolute missile of a slap shot from the left circle that whizzed above Hellebuyck's right shoulder.

It was an important goal, too, because the Jets had just cut the lead to 4-1 and were making a strong push towards the early stages of the third period.

It's a great problem to have when you have eight capable defensemen, but it calls for some difficult decisions when Franson and Rutta get healthy. Oesterle has done nothing to warrant being removed from the lineup, and neither did Kempny in this one.

Blackhawks loan Henri Jokiharju to Finland for 2019 World Juniors

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AP

Blackhawks loan Henri Jokiharju to Finland for 2019 World Juniors

Henri Jokiharju has been one of the Blackhawks' most reliable defensemen this season. He ranks fourth on the club in even-strength ice time and is tied for second among team defensemen with 11 assists.

But at 19 years of age, he's eligible to play in the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship for one last time and the Blackhawks loaned him to Team Finland on Tuesday to do exactly that. It's a chance to go up against the elite players at his own age from around the world and play in every situation.

"It's a great opportunity for him but also for our team," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We're thinking about what kind of player he's going to be months down the road and years down the road. It's a chance for him to go there and be, if not the top player, one of the top players and help lead them to success, being a leader and being a top, top guy. You don't get those chances very often. He'll have the opportunity to be a big part of their team and make a lot of plays.

"He's a confident kid, but get more swagger in his game. Then when he comes back here he can contribute even more to our team."

Jokiharju recorded four points (two goals, two assists) in five games for Finland during last year's tournament; his four points ranked tied for first on his country's blue line. Finland's run ended in disappointing fashion, getting upset by the Czech Republic 4-3 in a shootout in the quarterfinals.

Jokiharju is expected to be a leader on this year's team, which is hoping to bounce back in a big way and make a real run at the championship. And the Blackhawks like that idea for his development, even though it takes away a key part of their back end.

"We're going to build this team to the highest level we can," Colliton said. "It's the best thing now for our team and also for him. If we're going to win, we need him to be a big part of our success, and so this is the right thing for his development. Then it's a no-brainer.

"He wants to be here. He wants to play in the NHL. It's the highest level. But he gets the chance to play for his country. Like we told him, they're so excited to have him. It's a lot of responsibility for him. It can really help him grow as a person and a leader and a player. He's got to embrace the opportunity, but I think he will and it can be a great experience for him."

The tournament will run from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5, 2019 in Vancouver.

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Blackhawks vs. Predators: Start time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Blackhawks vs. Predators: Start time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Chicago Blackhawks got a big win against the Pittsburgh Penguins but have since dropped two games. The Blackhawks are looking to stop this skid to become a full on losing streak against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, they'll be without goaltender Corey Crawford, who was put on injured reserve after sustaining a head injury on Sunday night. Cam Ward will become the top goaltender and the Blackhawks recalled Collin Delia to get into the rotation as well.

Here is everything you need to know to watch all the Blackhawks coverage on NBC Sports Chicago.

HOW TO WATCH

ON TV: NBC Sports Network

Desktop/Laptop: NBCSportsChicago.com

Mobile/Tablet: MyTeams App by NBC Sports

TV SCHEDULE

7:00 PM: Blackhawks Pregame Live presented by ChevyDrivesChicago.com
7:30 PM: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators
10:00 PM: Blackhawks Postgame Live presented by Hyundai

GENERAL INFO

WHERE: United Center, Chicago, IL
WHEN: December 17, 7:30 p.m.

ANALYSIS AND REACTION

BEFORE THE GAME: At 7:00 p.m., Blackhawks Pregame Live presented by ChevyDrivesChicago.com gets you ready for the game with Pat Boyle in studio with Patrick Sharp, Adam Burish and Steve Konroyd. Watch NBC Sports Chicago or click here for the livestream.

IN BETWEEN PERIODS: Tune in to watch Boyle, Sharp, Burish and Konroyd breakdown the action after each period. Watch NBC Sports Chicago or click here for the livestream.

AFTER THE GAME: As soon as the game ends, stay tuned for Blackhawks Postgame Live presented by Hyundai for analysis, commentary and player reaction. Watch NBC Sports Chicago or click here for the livestream.

DURING THE GAME, FOLLOW US

Blackhawks Talk: @NBCSBlackhawks
NBC Sports Chicago: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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