Blackhawks

It's time for Blackhawks to develop Kirby Dach and Adam Boqvist

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USA Today

It's time for Blackhawks to develop Kirby Dach and Adam Boqvist

It's no secret things are rough for the Blackhawks, who are 12-15-6, right now. They've lost four straight games, been outscored 14-6 in their past three and are last place in the Central Division.

The team reached a new low after blowing a third period three-goal lead in St. Louis Saturday night and falling 4-3 in regulation to the Blues. A brutal turnover in the Hawks' defensive zone from Alex Nylander gave St. Louis their first goal of the game and all the momentum they needed to win. Nylander didn't miss a shift after.

"Okay, that was a mistake," Hawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said of Nylander's egregious error after the game. "But there was a mistake on the entry, there was a mistake on the coverage where we double up. 

"If we bench everyone who makes a mistake, we're not going to have any players. So yeah, there's a time and place for that no question, but I think that the real issue is that up and down the lineup we don't do the right things all the time every shift. And again, until that changes, it's hard to win."

If the team's play has reached a level where they're doing the wrong things so consistently that an individual can't be punished with missing a shift, then you might as well throw center Kirby Dach and defenseman Adam Boqvist some more responsibility. 

Saturday we learned Dach, 18, would be sticking with the Hawks and not playing in the World Junior Championships and Sunday we learned the same about Boqvist, 19.

Dach, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, and Boqvist, selected No. 8 overall in the 2018 draft, have the highest ceilings of all the Hawks' youngsters and look to be the biggest pieces of the franchise's future moving forward. 

The Hawks made the decision to burn the first year of Dach's contract earlier this season. If Boqvist plays Sunday night, it'll be his 10th game with Chicago this year, meaning the first year of his contract will be burnt as well. Seeing as he's still with the club and not headed to World Juniors, it's likely to happen sooner rather than later.

As the team struggles, why not see what Dach, a big two-way center can do and give him the reps and situational experience to improve. Have him play 16-17 minutes a night instead of the 13:03 he logged in St. Louis Saturday. The rookie already has five goals and five assists with limited ice time, but what could he have playing with guys like Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews if he got more reps as a top-six forward. He could learn a lot from them as well. 

Since the D seems to struggle shift to shift as it is, why not let Boqvist, a puck-moving defenseman with a great shot, hold onto it more and let it rip? 

Defenseman Dennis Gilbert, who's only played in 10 games for Chicago the past two seasons, logged 19:03 of ice time in St. Louis to Boqvist's 14:56. Boqvist needs to be out there more. He needs to spend time quarterbacking every power play as he's expected to do for years to come in a Hawks sweater.

Let the kids play. Up their ice time, give them more minutes and let them see tough matchups. At this point, I can't imagine it can hurt the Hawks more than they're already hurting. Building Dach and Boqvist's skillset, comfort and confidence now is building a better future for the Blackhawks. 

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Patrick Kane’s love-hate relationship with St. Louis fans highlight of 2020 NHL All-Star Game

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USA Today

Patrick Kane’s love-hate relationship with St. Louis fans highlight of 2020 NHL All-Star Game

ST. LOUIS — Patrick Kane has been booed all weekend in St. Louis and the nine-time Blackhawks All-Star poked a little bit of fun at Blues fans for their, shall we say, warm welcoming. But Saturday put the crowd in a weird spot.

On one hand, Kane is an arch rival in St. Louis. On the other, he represented the Central Division and was teammates with the four Blues All-Stars (Jordan Binnington, Ryan O'Reilly, David Perron and Alex Pietrangelo).

After falling into a 3-0 hole to the Pacific Division, the Central Division stormed back for three straight goals. Perron scored the second goal, which drew huge cheers. Fourteen seconds later, Kane scored the equalizer, which also drew loud cheers. 

But then the St. Louis fans realized who had scored and Kane had some fun with them by holding his glove up to his ear. 

"Tried to like put my hand up to my ear to hear the boos," Kane said. "But then I was showing them that hey, I’m playing with the Blues players, I’ve got the same jersey as them. Just had fun with it. "

The Blues found themselves conflicted for a second time when Kane evened the score at 5-5 after converting on a breakaway. The interaction between Kane and the crowd was the most memorable moment of the night.

"It’s all in good fun," Kane said following a 10-5 loss to the Pacific Division. "To be honest with you, sometimes you get booed, you kind of like it a little bit. It’s St. Louis and Chicago, it’s a huge rivalry. Not only in hockey, but pretty much every other sport they play against each other. I guess that’s only baseball, but, you know what? Had a lot of fun this weekend and I thought that was a pretty cool moment."

Even the Blues had fun with it.

"Those were boos," a smiling Pietrangelo said. "Not cheers."

But at least somebody had sympathy for Kane.

"I felt bad for Kaner," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "He comes out in his introductions and is getting booed and stuff and then he scores and they're cheering for him. Tough situation for him. Players all know. They all handle it very well. It's a fun event."

In the end, it provided entertainment and brought some life to the event. What Kane is really trying to figure out is why he's snake bitten at All-Stars Games. He hasn't won since 2012 in Ottawa when Team Zdeno Chara defeated Team Daniel Alfredsson 12-9 under the fantasy draft format.

"I know, right?" Kane said. "Central can’t get over the hump. We won one last year and lost in the final. I think every time you look at the roster, you always think you have a really good roster with some of the players that are on the team, and for whatever reason we can’t do it."

The Central Division slipped to 1-5 under the 3-on-3 format, but Kane may have a solution on how to fix their struggles.

"Maybe it would be better if the Central played an Eastern team next year or something," Kane said half-jokingly. "Maybe you could switch it up that way."

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Patrick Kane scores two goals before Central exits NHL All-Star Tournament

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AP

Patrick Kane scores two goals before Central exits NHL All-Star Tournament

Patrick Kane made his ninth NHL All-Star appearance in Saturday's 3-on-3 tournament in St. Louis. It was short-lived, but the superstar forward scored two impressive goals for the Central Division's team before they were eliminated after one game. 

The 31-year-old winger won the inaugural "Shooting Stars" challenge in the Skills Competition on Friday, beating the Blues' Ryan O'Reilly and Maple Leafs' Mitch Marner in sudden death. 

Then, the three-time Stanley Cup champ scored to tie the game 3-3 at 7:18 of the first period for the Central in the semifinal bout against the Pacific on Saturday. Kane kept the puck on a 2-on-1 with Eric Staal and fired it in stick side on goalie Jacob Markstrom. 

He later scored on a breakaway, shooting five-hole on David Rittich to tie it 5-5 at 1:37 of the second period. The Central lost the contest 10-5 and missed out on winning the million dollar prize. 

Kane, who recorded his 1,000th NHL point last Sunday, had four hometown Blues players as teammates: Jordan Binnington, David Perron, Alex Pietrangelo and O'Reilly.

The Atlantic beat the Metropolitan 9-5 in the first semifinal game. Former Blackhawks forward Anthony Duclair had three goals and an assist in the first game of the tourney. Duclair has 33 points (21 goals, 12 assists) in 47 games with the Ottawa Senators this season.

The Pacific beat the Atlantic 5-4 in the final. It was the Pacific's third straight tournament victory. David Pastrnak of the Atlantic (and Boston Bruins) was the MVP of the tournament, winning a 2020 Honda CR-V HYRBRID. 

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