Blackhawks

Four takeaways: Johnny Gaudreau stays hot as Blackhawks fall to Flames

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USA TODAY

Four takeaways: Johnny Gaudreau stays hot as Blackhawks fall to Flames

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames at the United Center on Monday:

1. Johnny Gaudreau and Pacific Division struggles

Going into the game, the Blackhawks knew they had to be aware at all times of where and when Gaudreau was on the ice. Yet they gave him too much time, and he made them pay.

The NHL's first star of the week scored twice, and both goals came off questionable line changes for the Blackhawks which allowed Gaudreau to have all the time and space in the world. Gaudreau has scored a goal in five straight games, and now ranks third in the league with 64 points.

With the loss, the Blackhawks fell to 1-10-2 against Pacific Division opponents this season and lost all three games against the Flames in regulation.

"Sometimes you can, but I don’t think tonight’s one of those," coach Jeremy Colliton on whether he can take a moral victory out of going toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the Western Conference. "We played really good for one period. I think [if] we play close to three periods like we did the second, we win the game, and we didn’t do it."

2. Patrick Kane's highlight reel goal

Chicago has seen Kane do some pretty amazing things with the puck since he joined the NHL in 2007-08. Every night he's seemingly adding to his highlight reel, whether it's a pretty pass, a dangle, a goal, whatever.

He did it again on Monday, as Kane showed why he has one of the best backhander's in the league by scoring a ridiculous goal from a tough angle that not many guys would even think to try.

"That backhand shot has been a shot that I've been doing my whole life, since I was 7 years old," Kane said. "It's always been something I've worked on."

And to make the moment even more memorable, Kane celebrated by looking at his parents and girlfriend in the crowd sitting a few rows up from where the goal was scored.

"It was just a coincidence that I was skating right by them there," Kane said. "I know where they're sitting. My dad comes to every game, he has so far this year anyways, so it's fun to see him get excited and that was kind of a moment where it was cool to celebrate with him there."

3. Alex DeBrincat hits 20-goal mark

DeBrincat has been a streaky goal scorer this season. He had eight goals in October, two in November and then eight again in December.

Four games into January, DeBrincat has scored in back-to-back games and hit the 20-goal plateau for the second straight season to start his NHL career. He's the 14th player in Blackhawks history to score at least 20 goals in his first two seasons, and first since Artemi Panarin, according to NBC Sports Chicago's stats guru Christopher Kamka.

DeBrincat led the Blackhawks with 28 goals in 82 games last season; he has 20 goals through 45 games this season, and is on pace for 36.

4. Collin Delia turns in another strong performance

For the third time in five starts this season, Delia has faced at least 40 shots in a game. In the first, he stopped 46 of 48 in a 5-2 win over Minnesota. In the second, he stopped 47 of 50 in a 3-2 overtime loss to the N.Y. Islanders.

And on Monday, he stopped 39 of 42 shots for a save percentage of .929 and suffered his first regulation loss of the season when he certainly deserved better.

"I just want to continue to play," Delia said. "That's really what's important, continue to see as many situations as possible, practice hard, continue to elevate my game to this level so it's at a point where we can win those 2-1 games. Sometimes that responsibility falls back on the goalies. Got to make a couple big saves."

Hawks Talk Podcast: What will it take for Blackhawks to make playoffs?

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: What will it take for Blackhawks to make playoffs?

What will it take for the Chicago Blackhawks to earn a playoff spot with 10 games remaining? Pat Boyle, Steve Konroyd and Charlie Roumeliotis discuss where the Blackhawks stand after a rough 3-2 loss in overtime to the Vancouver Canucks.

With Corey Crawford at the top of his game again, should the Blackhawks try to ride him into the playoffs? How have Jeremy Colliton’s line changes impacted Patrick Kane’s game? Plus, breakouts from Eric Gustafsson and Brendan Perlini have been huge for the Blackhawks during their recent streak of six straight games with a point. 

0:45 - Missed opportunity for Blackhawks against Canucks

2:45 – Hawks changing up lines has slowed down Patrick Kane

5:45 – Should the Blackhawks ride Corey Crawford while he’s hot?

8:00 – Hawks will need 13-15 points in final 10 games to get playoff spot

10:30 – Brendan Perlini has finally figured it out for Hawks

12:35 – Eric Gustafsson’s breakout year has been vital to Hawks success

15:35 – Dylan Sikura still hasn’t scored, but he’s been all over the ice

18:50 – Prediction time…will the Hawks make the playoffs?

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks manufacture point against Canucks despite inconsistent effort

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USA TODAY

Four takeaways: Blackhawks manufacture point against Canucks despite inconsistent effort

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks at the United Center on Monday:

1. Manufacturing a point

The Blackhawks had a good opportunity on the table. After Arizona lost, they could've pulled within three points of a wildcard spot with a game in hand if they pulled out a victory.

Instead, they settled for the one point, which was obviously important because it moved them within two games. But they weren't satisfied with their effort, especially against a Canucks team that was on the second of a back-to-back and started their 23-year-old rookie goaltender who had only five career NHL starts going into the game.

"We had a chance to jump on ‘em, try to wear them down early and take control of the game and just let them hang around," said Jonathan Toews, who's now three goals away from tying his career high of 34 set during the 2008-09 season. "We didn’t have the speed and pace we needed early on. Obviously it’s nice to get that point. But tough finish."

2. The pros and cons

There's good news and bad news regarding the effort the Blackhawks turned in.

The good news? The defense was solid, allowing only nine total high danger chances, according to naturalstattrick.com, after giving up 24 to Montreal and 18 to Toronto.

The bad news? The offense generated just six of their own and were held to two goals, which is below their season average of 3.35 per game. There weren't many high quality opportunities. But the Canucks took advantage of theirs and the Blackhawks didn't until late.

"We didn’t come out hard enough," Erik Gustafsson said. "We know they’re playing back to back and we talked about it before. We needed to come out much harder today. Just a bad 60 minutes. At least we got one point. But we need two now. It’s not fun."

3. Playing down to opponents?

The Blackhawks are fighting for their playoff lives. Every point matters, no matter who the opponent is. But lately they haven't been bringing their A-game against teams below them in the standings. They lost to Los Angeles, barely escaped Anaheim and were fortunate to pick up a point against the Canucks.

Is that a trend or just a blip?

"There's been nights where we've played down, for sure," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I don't know if that's a consistent thing, but obviously there's been some instances where we would've liked to play better against teams we're ahead of in the standings. But we also had a pretty good run there in January where we were beating teams that we needed to beat and that's why we're here. We didn't have it tonight, but we did manufacture a point and gotta just use the two days to reload here and get back at it."

4. Patrick Kane hits century mark

For the second time in his NHL career, Kane has hit the 100-point mark. It was only a matter of when, not if. And after going pointless in Montreal, he didn't have to wait too much longer to do it. 

With a primary assist on Toews' power-play goal in the first period, Kane became the third player in franchise history to record multiple 100-point seasons, joining Jeremy Roenick (three times) and Denis Savard (five). He also became the fifth American-born player to accomplish that feat.

Kane joins Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov and Edmonton's Connor McDavid as the first three players to reach 100 points this season. Kane's career high is 106, set during the 2015-16 campaign when he won the Art Ross and Hart Trophy. And with 10 games remaining, there's a good chance he breaks that, too.