Blackhawks

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' shutout win over Wild: Power play getting better

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AP

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' shutout win over Wild: Power play getting better

ST. PAUL, Minn. – You can pretty much guess what No. 1 is, right? Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 2-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night:

1. More outstanding goaltending.

We discussed Corey Crawford in the main story so let’s look ahead: does Crawford start again when the Blackhawks host Montreal on Sunday? Coach Joel Quenneville said it’s “under consideration” following Crawford’s second consecutive shutout. But he has to weigh that against giving Anton Forsberg a chance to redeem himself from his tough outing in Colorado. The way Crawford’s playing, however, don’t be surprised if he’s in net again on Sunday.

2. The power play capitalizes.

OK, the Blackhawks’ power play still isn’t outstanding. It’s nevertheless ironic that the advantage has been responsible for the game-winning goals for two consecutive contests. Of course a lot of the credit still goes to Crawford for the shutout but getting anything on that power play right now is a bonus.

“We had a real tough stretch of scoring on the power play and all of a sudden you score two big ones, it certainly helps our standing and can help with some production going forward,” Quenneville said.

3. Fourth line creating again.

The Blackhawks have gotten good work out of the fourth line, whether it’s been John Hayden or Ryan Hartman on the right side. On Saturday he, Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels combined for seven shots on goal. On the other side of that…

4. The second line’s quiet night.

There wasn’t much doing for the trio of Brandon Saad, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane. Schmaltz had four shots on goal, and three of those were through the first 40 minutes. Saad didn’t get his first (and only) shot on goal until early in the third period. Kane also got his lone one in the third.

5. Artem Anisimov finding is game again.

Goals aren’t the only indicator of improved play, but they certainly help. Anisimov now has four goals in as many games, three of which have come on special teams (two power-play goals and a short-handed effort). Quenneville said Anisimov has been “way, way better” in recent games. His improved confidence could help get the power play going again.

2020 NHL Draft: How Rangers getting No. 1 pick affects Blackhawks

2020 NHL Draft: How Rangers getting No. 1 pick affects Blackhawks

On Monday night, during Phase 2 of the NHL Draft lottery, the New York Rangers won the No. 1 overall pick for the 2020 NHL Draft.

Originally, the top pick went to a placeholder team during Phase 1 of the lottery in June. Eight of the teams eliminated during the Stanley Cup Qualifiers  Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets — would each have a 12.5% chance of walking away with the No. 1 pick.

New York grabbing the top pick affects the Hawks in a few ways. 

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First, Hawks fans can relax and enjoy the playoffs with their team in it as the Oilers didn't win the pick. Meaning, if the Oilers had won it, it would have belonged to the Hawks if the Oilers eliminated them in the qualifying round and not the other way around.

Second, the Blackhawks could now get the No. 16 or 17 overall pick if they lose to the Golden Knights in Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, depending on the results of the Montreal Canadiens-Philadelphia Flyers series.  

The No. 1 pick of this year's draft is expected to be forward Alexis Lafrenière, who registered 35 goals and 77 assists for a league-leading 112 points in 52 games this season with the Rimouski Océanic of the QMJHL, where he also served as the team captain. 

So former Blackhawks winger Artemi Panarin — a Hart Trophy finalist this year with the Rangers — could have a young, skilled forward helping him generate even more offense for New York as early as next season.

Related: Why former Blackhawk Artemi Panarin should win the Hart Trophy

The 2020 NHL Draft is scheduled for Oct. 9 and 10. It was originally scheduled for June 26-27 in Montreal but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which paused the NHL on March 12.

Robin Lehner starting Game 1 for Vegas Golden Knights against Blackhawks Tuesday

Robin Lehner starting Game 1 for Vegas Golden Knights against Blackhawks Tuesday

Ahead of the start of Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs' matchup between the Vegas Golden Knights and Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer announced former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner will get the start in net for Vegas in Game 1 against his former team. 

The 2019 Vezina Trophy finalist was traded from Chicago to Vegas ahead of Feb. 24's trade deadline. He was 16-10-5 as a Hawk during the 2019-20 regular season with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage prior to the move.

Related: Former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner unveils new pads

Lehner was in net for the Knights' overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday in a round-robin contest to help Vegas grab the No. 1 seed in the West for Round One, pitting them against the Blackhawks, who were the No. 12 seed in the qualifying round and were reseeded to be No. 8 for Round One.

Following Saturday's game, Lehner was asked about facing the Blackhawks and his former goalie partner Corey Crawford and if playing with the Hawks earlier this season carries an advantage.

Related: Former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner's birthday cake is unreal

"I don't know. All I know is it's going to be fun playing them," Lehner said. "They're a very good hockey team and I have a lot of respect for them, the whole organization... but I think I really like it here (with Vegas), we're a great hockey team."

The 29-year-old netminder got off to a hot start with Vegas ahead of the NHL pause on March 12 going 3-0-0 with 1.67 goals-against average and .940 save percentage.

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