Blackhawks

Four takeaways: Sellout streak continues as Blackhawks rout Stars in home finale

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USA TODAY

Four takeaways: Sellout streak continues as Blackhawks rout Stars in home finale

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-1 win over the Dallas Stars at the United Center on Friday:

1. Finishing strong at home

The Blackhawks may not be in playoff contention anymore, but they haven't exactly packed it in down the stretch. With a victory on Friday night, the Blackhawks extended their point streak to five games (3-0-2).

They also finished the season with a 19-14-8 record at home after going 18-18-5 last season. They went 4-1-2 in the final seven games at the United Center.

"Full barn again," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "Lots of energy. Nice to see us put some pucks in the net and everyone can feel good about themselves. Obviously, we can carry a good feeling into tomorrow."

Said Kane: "We gotta be good at home and I think that's something that probably hasn't been as good as it should have been the past couple seasons. But still a treat to play here at the United Center and we always feel the fans at our backs, so try to use that to our advantage next season."

2. Corey Crawford injury scare

With two games left, the Blackhawks were expected to give Crawford the start on Friday in front of his hometown fans one last time this season and Cam Ward on Saturday in Nashville for his 700th career NHL game. But the circumstances changed.

While he did start, Crawford left the game in the second period because of a groin injury he appeared to suffer in the opening frame trying to make a save going post-to-post. 

Ward eventually replaced Crawford, who did not return and will not travel to Nashville for the regular season finale. But they don't anticipate his injury being serious. The Blackhawks will call up goaltender Kevin Lankinen from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

3. Personal achievements

It was a well-rounded victory for the Blackhawks, and one that featured several nice milestones. 

Let's run them down:

— With an assist, Erik Gustafsson became the sixth defenseman this season to reach the 60-point mark, joining Brent Burns (81), Mark Giordano (74), Morgan Rielly (72), John Carlson (70) and Keith Yandle (61).
— Patrick Kane became the first winger in Blackhawks history to hit at least 108 points in a single season. Denis Savard did it four times as a center.
— Slater Koekkoek scored his first goal as a member of the Blackhawks.
— Chris Kunitz, who received a courtesy start in front of his family in Chicago, scored a goal in what could be one of his final games in the NHL. He's the only active player with four Stanley Cups.
— Ward became the fifth active goaltender to enter the 700-game club, joining Ryan Miller (757), Marc-Andre Fleury (797), Henrik Lundqvist (857) and Roberto Luongo (1,043).

4. The sellout streak continues

Blackhawks fans have been spoiled. In nine straight years from 2009-17, their team made the playoffs each time, appeared in five Conference Finals and three Stanley Cups. But they want more, and they should want more because of where they were before the Kane and Toews era. Nobody wants to go back to those times.

And despite missing out on the postseason for the second consecutive year, that hasn't stopped fans from packing the building on a nightly basis.

For the 11th straight season, the Blackhawks have led the NHL in attendance. Friday marked their 497th consecutive sellout, including playoffs. It's hard to see that ending any time soon.

A cool gesture by the organization to give back to the fans, the Blackhawks gave their season ticket holders an opportunity to upload a personal photo, which were then put together to create collages that filled the numbers of the players' warmup jerseys for the final home game. The jerseys will be signed and then auctioned for charity, with all proceeds benefiting the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation.

"Tonight was great," Kane said. "Well all year round it's been great, but tonight was great too. Just kind of the wherewithal to have the presence of mind to be whistling at the end and kind of showing thanks for the season even though we obviously didn't have the season we wanted. What was it close to 22,000 fans again tonight? Not really surprised anymore, but something we don't take for granted in here and love playing in front of them."

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reaction to Artem Anisimov trade and development camp standouts

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reaction to Artem Anisimov trade and development camp standouts

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis react to the trade of Artem Anisimov to the Senators for Zack Smith. The guys discuss the role Smith could have with the Hawks and the areas where he has an edge over Anisimov.

They also discuss the first couple days of Development Camp and how this year’s top two draft picks — Kirby Dach and Alex Vlasic — have looked so far. Plus, a breakdown of the other top blue-liners and how Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin and Chad Krys have progressed and why they agree with Ian Mitchell’s decision to return to Denver for his junior year.

0:35 – Initial reaction to Anisimov/Smith trade

2:02 – Smith adds faceoff and penalty kill abilities

3:38 – Candidates for bottom-six center spots

4:57 – Edge a common theme among new Blackhawks

6:08 – Alex Nylander’s presence at Development Camp

8:20 – Kirby Dach has an open door to a roster spot

10:38 – Alex Vlasic holding his own against Dach

11:46 – Adam Boqvist wants to play in the NHL now

13:23 – Were Blackhawks recent moves scripted before NHL Draft?

15:28 – Ian Mitchell’s decision to return to college

18:57 – Young defenseman make decisions tough down the road

20:21 – Keeping an eye on Philipp Kurashev at camp

21:20 – Is Stan Bowman done making moves?

22:34 – Salary cap outlook with DeBrincat/Strome extensions coming

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

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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2019 Blackhawks development camp: Day 2 thoughts and takeaways

2019 Blackhawks development camp: Day 2 thoughts and takeaways

Here are several thoughts and takeaways from Day 2 of Blackhawks development camp at Fifth Third Arena:

1. Why Alex Nylander wanted to be at camp

The Blackhawks invited 37 prospects to development camp. Only one of them has NHL experience and that's Nylander, who was a late addition after he was acquired from Buffalo for Henri Jokiharju.

Nylander has been one of the standouts so far, and rightfully so. He's supremely gifted and is ahead of the curve in comparison to some of the other prospects attending. But he's behind on his own development curve, and the Blackhawks wanted to see him on the ice this week because he's going to be one of the players in the mix for an everyday roster spot when training camp rolls around.

While it may have been unexpected to see Nylander's name on the prospect camp list because it feels like he's been around forever, he was all for getting a headstart despite not participating in the Sabres' development camp the week after the NHL Draft.

"I mean, I just got traded here," Nylander said. "I wanted to meet everybody and get on the ice. It’s been a couple of months since I was on the ice, so I thought it was a great opportunity for me to come here, show what I’ve done in training through the summer and I can get even better toward training camp. I just didn’t need to go to Buffalo’s camp."

2. Ripple effects of Artem Anisimov trade

The Blackhawks made a trade in the middle of camp on Tuesday, with Anisimov going to Ottawa in exchange for power forward Zack Smith. It's a move that cleared $1.3 million in cap space for the Blackhawks, but also opened the door for somebody to snatch up that third-line center role.

Kirby Dach, anyone?

GM Stan Bowman mentioned Ryan Carpenter, David Kampf, Andrew Shaw and Zack Smith as guys who have experience playing center but didn't single anyone out as a potential leading candidate to fill Anisimov's shoes in the third-line center role. One of those four figures to secure the fourth-line center position, which will likely be Carpenter or Kampf — perhaps we could see situational faceoffs between them with Carpenter a right-handed shot and Kampf a lefty.

It truly does feel like the third-line center position is up for grabs, and the Blackhawks don't seem to mind it that way. Bowman said Dach could very well be part of the group, and it's difficult not to wonder whether the No. 3 overall pick has a fair chance of making it.

"We have quite a few potential options there to play in the middle," Bowman said. "It’s hard to map out some lines and who is going to be in what spot but I think we have different looks that we can throw at the other team. Part of training camp is going to be to find out where does everybody fit and which combinations work best."

Other notes:

— Chris Kunitz has been sitting with the Blackhawks front office contingent observing camp. He hasn't announced what his future holds, but if he's ready to call it quits on his playing career, it wouldn't be surprising to see the organization bring him on in some capacity.

— Alexis Gravel made his camp debut on Tuesday. He did not participate in on-ice sessions on Monday because he wasn't medically cleared to do so.

— Tim Soderlund was listed on the prospect camp roster but has been absent for the first two days because of visa issues. It's unclear whether that will get resolved before camp wraps up on Friday.

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