Blackhawks

Why Dylan Strome and Nick Schmaltz trade has become a win-win for both Blackhawks and Coyotes

Why Dylan Strome and Nick Schmaltz trade has become a win-win for both Blackhawks and Coyotes

It’s hard to believe it’s taken this long, but the Blackhawks and Coyotes will meet at the United Center on Monday for the first time since their Nov. 25 trade when Brendan Perlini and Dylan Strome were sent to Chicago and Nick Schmaltz was shipped to Arizona.

And looking back on the move, it appears to be working out just fine for both sides.

Strome has 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) in 44 games with the Blackhawks; he had 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 48 career games with the Coyotes. He's becoming the player the Coyotes thought they were getting when they took him No. 3 overall in 2015 in large part because of the comfort level he's always had with close friend Alex DeBrincat, which has allowed them to thrive in the shadow of and alongside franchise icons Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, and doing it in one of the top hockey markets in the NHL. 

And Perlini is unquestionably playing his best hockey of the season, potting three goals in his last four games and getting more ice time because of it.

"Perlini lately has been unbelievable," Patrick Kane said. "He's playing great. He seems to be a force every time he's on the ice. Obviously when you talk about Strome you think about how he's helped our power play. The numbers speak for itself. He's close to a point per game with us, given us more depth up the middle, really been a great fit in the locker room too, a guy that really loves hockey, still a young player, has a lot of potential too."

For Arizona, Schmaltz has 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 17 games since the trade, and a shooting percentage of 17.2. He was playing top-line minutes before suffering a knee injury in January that shut him down for the remainder of the regular season, which is unfortunate because he's in a contract year. But the Coyotes are excited about where he projects in their lineup for the long term.

 

The Blackhawks and Coyotes should both be happy about what they got in return because it's turning out how each of them envisioned.

"It went a little smother for [Stromer]," coach Jeremy Colliton said of what Perlini and Strome have meant to the team since the acquisition. "He was able to produce right away and get a good feeling. He’s been a big part of the power play, had chemistry with [Artem] Anisimov and [Patrick] Kane for a while, they produced well for us. Now being with [DeBrincat] for a long stretch, too, they’ve scored some big goals for us and found a way to produce most nights. It’s been huge.

"With Perlini, really happy with his last stretch of games. He’s taken a step. Much more involved, giving us energy and winning races and battles. When he does that, his line has the puck more. He has skill, he has a bomb, big body, can take the puck to the net. Maybe the game in Dallas was his best game since he’s been here. Hopefully he can continue to improve."

While there's certainly some extra juice for the players playing against their former team, they want to channel it in the right way because both teams are fighting for their playoff lives right now.

"Yeah, obviously I'm excited to play them like anyone would be against your old team," Strome said. "I think at this point in the standings you want to do well individually but at the same time you want to get the two points for your team. They're fighting and so are we. It's a big game in the standings. Try not to focus on it too much and just go out, have some fun, make some plays and the rest will take care of itself."

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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.