Blackhawks

Joel Quenneville, Mike Babcock on what Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita meant to hockey

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AP

Joel Quenneville, Mike Babcock on what Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita meant to hockey

Ahead of Sunday's home opener vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Blackhawks honored the franchise's all-time leading scorer Stan Mikita after he died in August at the age of 78.

He represented what it means to be a Chicago Blackhawk, both on and off the ice. But his legacy goes beyond that.

Mikita will forever be known as one of the greatest players in NHL history and someone who was a pioneer when it came to innovating the game of hockey.

Joel Quenneville and Mike Babcock, two of the winningest coaches in league history, weighed in on what Mikita meant to the Blackhawks, the NHL and the sport.

"Special Blackhawk," Quenneville said. "Stan meant everything to the organization. He was special not just in the organization but in the community. Always remembered for what he meant, a proud Blackhawk as well. It was tough when we lost him this summer. Tonight will be special. Nice to see the numbers in the back of the net, it's a good reminder and the guys having the No. 21 on the jerseys is special as well."

"A lot of people would know him way better than me, but obviously a gentleman first and a longtime Chicago Blackhawk who was a spectacular player," Babcock said. "But I think the special thing about being involved in an Original Six franchise, and I've been in one in Detroit and in Toronto now, where in Chicago is the history that they have and that you get to be a part of and the kind of gentleman that you get to meet and the kind of influence that can have on you. Quality, quality man and we'll be thinking of him and his family here today."

Four takeaways: Blackhawks beat Senators in wild high-scoring affair

Four takeaways: Blackhawks beat Senators in wild high-scoring affair

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 8-7 win over the Ottawa Senators at the United Center on Monday:

1. So, about that start...

If you were late getting to the game or flipping on the TV, you didn't miss much. Except maybe the wildest first period in recent memory.

The Blackhawks scored five goals on 15 shots for a shooting percentage of 33.3. The Senators scored four goals on 16 shots for a shooting percentage of 25.0. That's nine total goals on 31 shots.

Both goaltenders were pulled before the period ended, with Collin Delia (three goals allowed on 10 shots) being replaced for Cam Ward and former Blackhawks netminder Anders Nilsson (four goals allowed on 12 shots) being removed for Chicago native Craig Anderson.

Going into the game, the Blackhawks and Senators were tied for dead last with a goals against per game average of 3.64. So a high-scoring affair was expected. But not like this. This was as weird as it gets.

"Man, I think that’s probably what you would identify as a goalie nightmare, for both sides," Ward said. "That’s pretty crazy, to be honest with you. Obviously, the two points at the end of the night are the most important thing. But at the same time, we realize we can’t play like that if we want to be successful. But you take it for what it’s worth. The fans got the full value of their ticket tonight and it is what it is."

2. Slowing it down ... sort of

Things slowed down a little bit in the second period. Sort of. There weren't nine goals this time, but there was certainly action.

The Senators scored 1:32 into the middle frame to tie it up at 5-5, and you could almost hear the 22,338 fans sigh: "Here we go again." But the Blackhawks responded with a pair of goals in a span of 2:12 later on in the frame to put themselves up 7-5. And it turned out to be as close to a turning point as you can get in a back-and-forth game like this.

"It was a pretty crazy game," Alex DeBrincat said. "It felt more like a summer hockey game with that high scoring. It's good we got the win. That's all that matters. Move on from here."

3. Multi-point games for everyone

With an offensive explosion comes a loaded scoresheet.

Six Blackhawks had multi-point efforts: Alex DeBrincat (three goals, two assists), Patrick Kane (one goal, two assists), Duncan Keith (two assists), Brandon Saad (one goal, one assist), Dylan Strome (one goal, two assists) and Jonathan Toews (one goal, one assist).

Kane extended his point streak to 18 games, breaking the new mark for longest point streak by an NHL player this season. He also extended his assist streak to 17 games; Wayne Gretzky holds the all-time record at 23 games, set in 1990-91.

DeBrincat netted his fourth career NHL hat trick, and first career five-point games. With a three-goal game, he went from 17th to eighth among league leaders.

"I've seen him score a lot of goals," Strome said of DeBrincat. "He's obviously playing great hockey right now. He's doing a lot of great things. Really fun to play with obviously. Any time you get him the puck it's a one-timer or it's in. I said this a long time ago when people asked me, 'How do you think he's going to do in the NHL?' And I said, 'Really good.' We're having fun. Hockey is fun."

4. Defensive efforts 

Fifteen goals were scored between the Blackhawks and Senators. Both goalies were pulled. There was a hat trick. It seemingly had everything.

But high-scoring affairs like this are a coach's nightmare. And it sure was.

There were 70 combined scoring chances (59 at 5-on-5) and 36 high-danger chances (32 at 5-on-5), according to naturalstattrick.com. That will unquestionably be the first thing they look at when reviewing the game tape.

"Didn't particularly enjoy it back there," coach Jeremy Colliton said from his vantage point. "If I was a player I probably would have. But it was important that we got the win. You don't want to be looking back at these games and wondering what if.

"It wasn't pretty defensively. Some nice goals and some high-end skills on both sides. We need the points, the most important thing is the points. Good news is we won when maybe we didn't have our best effort. So hopefully we'll respond with a better one with our next one."

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Blackhawks make minor league trade with Rangers

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks make minor league trade with Rangers

When the Blackhawks signed Darren Raddysh in 2017, it was because they didn't have many right-handed shot defensemen in the pipeline and he was an intriguing prospect coming off a season in which he was named the OHL's top blue liner.

But with Adam Boqvist, Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell added to the mix over the last two NHL drafts, Raddysh was quickly jumped on the organizational depth chart. On Monday, the Blackhawks sent the 22-year-old prospect to the New York Rangers in exchange for forward Peter Holland, who will report to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

Raddysh, who was teammates with Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome with the Erie Otters, led all IceHogs defensemen with 26 points this season. With the Rangers expected to be sellers ahead of the Feb. 25 trade deadline, there's a chance he makes his NHL debut before the year ends depending on which defensemen they move.

Holland's cap hit is $675,000 and he's set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The 28-year-old has appeared in 266 games with four different teams, but has yet to appear in an NHL game this season. He can play all for forward positions. His best season came with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2014-15 when he compiled 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points in 62 games, and had a shooting percentage of 11.8.

Holland leads the Hartford Wold Pack with 20 goals, 29 assists and 49 points in 52 games this season, and served as an alternate captain. He's a good presence to have in Rockford, where the Blackhawks can use some veteran leadership up front for its young guys.

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