Blackhawks

In wake of trade deadline moves, here are the top five Blackhawks age 25 and under

In wake of trade deadline moves, here are the top five Blackhawks age 25 and under

There’s no shortage of talent with the Blackhawks youngins. NBC Sports Chicago Blackhawks analyst Steve Konroyd named the top five active players ages 25 and younger.

5. Connor Murphy -  Mar. 26,  1993

Not only does this defensmen have a great shot, but he also has great attitude on the ice. And just like the young kids, he has a certain toughness to him and is not afraid to be rough out there.

4. Vinnie Hinostroza -  Apr. 3, 1994

The Chicago native and left wing is one of the fastest players on the team, which makes him an energizer on the ice. Even though he started this season in the minors, he’s scored six goals and has had 14 assists. The Hawks really benefit from the energy and skill he brings. 

3. Brandon Saad -  Oct. 27, 1992

The way that the left wing has played this season, it’s clear that Saad is shifting in the right direction. He has scored 15 goals — including seven game winners — and has also notched 12 assists.

2. Alex DeBrincat - Dec. 18, 1997

This rookie right wing is a scoring machine. DeBrincat plays a crafty game and has a knack for always finding the back of the net — a skill that has helped him rack up 22 goals this season and boast a 15.6 shooting percentage. 

1. Nick Schmaltz - Feb. 23, 1996

With Nick Schmaltz, the Hawks found what they needed — a quality center. The 2014 first-round pick has quality speed, size and an underrated shot. This season, he’s notched 17 goals, 25 assists and 12 power play points. He’s complemented well by the Hawks wingmen and has been showing great chemistry with the team, especially with Patrick Kane.

There are also some standout names in the Hawks system that fans are excited about. Look out for Henri Jokiharju, Dylan Sikura, Victor Ejdsell and Matthew Highmore to make a splash.

MVP? Patrick Kane has Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews' vote for Hart Trophy

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USA TODAY

MVP? Patrick Kane has Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews' vote for Hart Trophy

At age 30, Patrick Kane is playing the best hockey of his career. Even better than his MVP campaign in 2015-16 when he also won the Art Ross Trophy with 106 points.

On Friday, Kane became the seventh player in NHL history to record multiple point streaks of at least 20 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, joining Wayne Gretzky (7), Brett Hull (3), Guy Lafleur (2), Mario Lemieux (2), Adam Oates (2) and Steve Yzerman. All six of those players are in the Hall of Fame, and it's not hard to see Kane joining them one day.

Through 61 games this season, Kane ranks second in goals (39), first in even-strength goals (30), fourth in assists (54) and second in points (93). He's on pace for 52 goals, 72 assists and 124 points, which would be career highs in all three categories. And he even missed a game with an illness.

MVP? Kane has the Blackhawks captain's vote.

"Relative to his team, absolutely," Jonathan Toews said. "You see who won the Hart Trophy last year, and in my book there’s no doubt that he should be taking home some hardware at the end of the season this year. But we all know he’s not worried about that right now. He’s worried about keeping his streak going and staying hot and playing his game, and every night he’s a big part of our offense, so it’s pretty incredible to see him do it night after night.”

Taylor Hall was named the Hart Trophy winner in 2017-18 after recording 93 points in 76 games for the New Jersey Devils, who finished as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. Toews doesn't see how this is any different, especially if the Blackhawks find a way into the Stanley Cup playoffs. Kane has strapped this team on his back.

Kane hasn't gone more than two games this season without picking up at least one point, and is one of the main reasons — if not the primary — why the Blackhawks have gone from last place in the NHL to competing for a wild card spot in a month. 

Kane's biggest competition is Tampa Bay superstar Nikita Kucherov, who is having a historic year for the Lightning. He's already topped the 100-point mark through 62 games, and is on pace for 132 points. Kucherov would become the first player to hit that point total since 1992-93 when Teemu Selanne and Pierre Turgeon each finished with 132 points.

But Kane isn't far off at a 124-point pace, and he's doing it on a team that has relied heavily on his services. The Blackhawks wouldn't be where they're at in the standings without his consistent production.

"He's been great, no doubt about that," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I can just speak for our team, he's been tremendously valuable. He's at times carried us on his back. ... He's probably going to find another level too."

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks rally three times but come up short against Avalanche

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AP

Four takeaways: Blackhawks rally three times but come up short against Avalanche

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at the United Center on Friday:

1. Blackhawks fight back three times, but fall short

The Blackhawks trailed four different times, and didn't hold a lead at any point in the game. They responded to Colorado's first three goals, going back-and-forth with their division foe. But they couldn't answer the fourth time as the Avalanche scored with 5:22 left and sealed the deal with an empty-netter in the final seconds.

The Blackhawks were encouraged with the way they played, but were disappointed with the outcome because they thought they deserved better against a team they needed two points from. And they did.

"It is what it is," Jonathan Toews said. "The points are important whether it’s the end of the regular season or near the end of the regular season or even playoffs. We wanted two points. Winning’s all that matters, so I think you do what you have to do to stay in games and find ways to win. We’re right there with them. They played a good game, but I think it was probably one of our best efforts collectively in the last little bit. So a lot of good things, and I think if we have that energy, we’re gonna get better results in the next few games here.”

2. Special teams plays big factor

The Blackhawks and Avalanche each committed four minor penalties. For 12:49 of the 60 minutes, there was some sort of man advantage. And it proved to be a huge part of the game.

The Blackhawks killed off the first three penalties and allowed only four shots on goal during those six minutes, but the Avalanche converted on their fourth opportunity (the lone shot on goal on that power play).

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks went 2-for-4 on with the man advantage, and nearly added a third goal in the final minute of the game but fell short. It was one the more well-rounded special teams performances by the Blackhawks this season.

"We had to rely on our power play a couple times, so it was nice that we came through there," said Patrick Kane, who extended his point streak to 20 games and goal streak to five, and also tied a franchise record with 13 shots on goal. "But that’s the thing I like about this group and our team. No matter what the score, no matter how we start or what’s happening in the middle of the game anything like that, we’re always in the game, there’s always a chance to turn the thing around. I like that about our group."

3. A complete effort but no reward

The Blackhawks have had some rocky starts as of late. Friday was not one of them. And it continued throughout the entire game

At even strength, the Blackhawks led in shot attempts (56-40), shots on goal (31-25), scoring chances (29-20) and high-danger chances (12-11), according to naturalstattrick.com. They were ahead in all four categories, except the one that mattered the most and that's the final score.

That's the hard part to swallow. The Blackhawks elevated their game in a playoff-type atmosphere and turned in one of their most complete efforts in a while, but it was one of those nights where the result doesn't reflect it. And it's unfortunate because it was a big four-point swing in Colorado's direction.

"Of course we would have liked to win," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "It's important points, it was an important game, head-to-head against a team we're battling with. We were really good I thought. It's one of our better efforts of the year and certainly recently. Sometimes the results don't go your way, but the challenge is to reproduce [at] that level and I think if we do, we'll get our fair share of points."

4. Standings impact

For a brief moment on Wednesday, the Blackhawks saw their name above the playoff line. It made for an exciting build-up to Friday's game against Colorado, which later took over that second spot from Chicago.

But after Friday's regulation loss, the Blackhawks fell two points behind the Avalanche, who have a game in hand, and three points behind the Minnesota Wild, who have won back-to-back games. Even the Arizona Coyotes are above the Blackhawks because of points percentage, tied at 61 points but hold a game in hand.

That's why this game was so important. But good news for the Blackhawks? They have two more meetings against the Avalanche this season, and one more against the Coyotes. But more importantly, they have to get right back to work for a divisional showdown against the Dallas Stars on Sunday afternoon.

"It’s only gonna get tougher and tougher as we go along here," Toews said. "We’ve got some tough road games coming up, so obviously we want to take it one game at a time. There’s nowhere to run or hide now. I think every team’s gonna be at their best and it’s a fun time of year to be right in the mix and be playing this type of hockey. I think the guys raised their play tonight, and we know there’s always room for improvement.”

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