Blackhawks

Will a reunion heat up a cold Blackhawks offense?

Will a reunion heat up a cold Blackhawks offense?

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane together on the same line. Call it the nuclear option, or the in-case-of-emergency-break-glass combination. It can have a few nicknames but when coach Joel Quenneville resorts to putting those two together, it has only one meaning: The Blackhawks are desperately looking to boost production.

Patrick Sharp joined Toews and Kane at Tuesday’s practice as the Blackhawks continue to try and rekindle their offense. Quenneville has expressed his reluctance to go this route many times in the past, and understandably so: you’re loading up one line and limiting your forward depth quite a bit. But when you’ve reached the point when your team can’t buy a goal, you do what you gotta do.

“Right now we haven’t had the team scoring so we’re trying to get that first and maybe things will look on balance as we’re going along. But I feel if they can score and other lines can score, maybe there’s balance that way, too,” Quenneville said. “We’re just looking at any way right now to recapture what it’s like to score because we know it’s there."

The Blackhawks’ 5-on-5 scoring has been a problem for a while now. The overall stats are deceptive: through 15 games the Blackhawks have 28 goals, which places them 13th in the NHL. But 14 of those 5-on-5 goals came in their first two games against Pittsburgh and Columbus. So they’ve scored just 14 more 5-on-5 goals over their last 13 games. Ouch.

To repeat, in case of emergency…

As for the players involved, they’re ready to give it a shot again.

“You’ve got a playmaker/puck-handler, a grinder, a shooter. We all have speed, we all kind of think the same way,” Sharp said. “It’s been a while since we’ve been a unit but if that line plays next game, hopefully we can do something.”

Toews and Kane are also usually thrown together in the postseason when the Blackhawks are looking for a knockout punch. When they got together for some games last season, the usual magic wasn’t there. Last year, Kane and Artemi Panarin were the magic combo. Still, the Blackhawks need to do something to generate some offense.

“We’re always a good line the three of us. And I’ve always said when I play with Kaner I always seem to be able to disappear and he can buy himself time and space with the puck so well that I can go to the net or go to areas where the puck might show up after we get scoring chances or shots,” Toews said. “With Sharpie, he’s such a good finisher and he can just make plays and always seems to be in the open ice with the puck under control.”

Toews and Kane are together again, this time with Sharp. The glass has been broken. The Blackhawks are desperate to find answers, and getting the band back together again needs to have a ripple effect, fast.

“That's the goal: create some magic,” Kane said. “The biggest thing is we've got three good players on the line so make sure you're not standing around waiting for the other guy to do it. Go and make stuff happen yourself and when you add two players like that, good things should happen.”

NHL 20 sim: Brandon Saad shows shades of Marian Hossa in Game 2 win

NHL 20 sim: Brandon Saad shows shades of Marian Hossa in Game 2 win

 

Game 2: Blackhawks at Blues (April 10)

Result: Blackhawks win 6-2 (Series tied 1-1)

Three Stars:

1st Star: Brandon Saad (2 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +3)

2nd Star: Olli Maatta (3 A, +2, 1 SOG, 1 H)

3rd Star: Jonathan Toews (1 G, 1 A, +3, 8-14 FO)

Brandon Saad showed shades of his 2014-15 self that was often compared to a young Marian Hossa. He netted two goals, got the primary assist to tie the game in the 2nd, and was a force at both ends recording four shots and a +3 rating. Olli Maatta provided some unexpected offense, chipping in with three assists including the primary helper on the eventual game-winner. The Captain stepped up when needed as well. Toews got the Hawks on the board to tie things in the second, and Chicago never looked back from there.

Scoring Summary:

First Period

-   6:59 Alexander Steen (O. Sundqvist, J. Kyrou) 1-0 

Second Period

-   1:19 Jonathan Toews (B. Saad, A. DeBrincat) 1-1

- 1:46 Brandon Saad (J. Toews, A. Boqvist) 2-1

- 5:04 Alex Nylander (O. Maatta, C. Murphy) 3-1

- 7:01 Drake Caggiula (O. Maatta) 4-1

- 15:03 Kirby Dach (Unassisted) 5-1

- 16:52 Vince Dunn (J. Faulk, S. Blais) 5-2

- 17:32 Brandon Saad (O. Maatta, A. DeBrincat) 6-2

Third Period

- No Scoring

Box Score:

Shots on Goal:

-   Chicago: 24

-   St. Louis: 22

The Blackhawks found a nice combination of depth contributions and stars stepping up. Established veterans like Toews and Saad did the heavy lifting early, then the depth and youth put the game to bed with a strong finish to the second period. With the first line through the fourth line all chipping in, the Hawks might be tough to beat if they are able to keep up that formula.

Goalies:

-   Corey Crawford: 20/22 (.909 SV%)

-   Jordan Binnington: 18/24 (.750 SV%)

Corey Crawford looked like the consistent, two-time Cup winner the Hawks need in net to win a series over St. Louis. After surrendering an early goal, Crawford was lights out despite an early push from the home team to try and put away the Hawks quickly. Once Crawford settled down, so did the visitors. While Binnington clearly didn’t have his best night, he was also a victim of some bad luck surrendering a pair of goals due to some unfortunate bounces. Much like Crawford in Game 1, Binnington didn’t get too much help in front of him.

Power Play:

-   Chicago: 0-1

-   St. Louis 0-0

After five combined penalties in Game 1, the referees swallowed their whistles and let the boys play. With just one power play in two games, there is no doubt Jeremy Colliton would like to see his team get a few more chances on the man advantage. On the other hand, the Hawks showed how important staying out of the box is for their defense and for their goaltender, especially against a power play unit as potent as the Blues’.

Notable Blackhawks performances:

-   Kirby Dach (Goal)

-   Drake Caggiula (Goal)

-   Alex Nylander (Goal)

After strong finishes to the regular season, Dach and Nylander were held in check in Game 1. That changed in a big way in Game 2. Both picked up their first career playoff goals; Nylander netting the eventual game-winner and Dach icing the game with a greasy goal in front of the net. Caggiula played his role well too, being a pest in front of the net, which led to his tally. The Hawks checked all the boxes they needed to pick up a win in Game 2. Now the series swings back to the Madhouse on Madison where the home crowd will undoubtedly be rocking. Blackhawks fans will experience their first home playoff game since April 2017.

2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 4 win over Sharks

2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 4 win over Sharks

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the 2010 Stanley Cup team, NBC Sports Chicago is re-airing each of the Blackhawks' 16 postseason wins from the run that ended a 49-year championship drought. You can join the conversation using #HawksRewind on social media.

After taking a 3-0 series lead, the Blackhawks had an opportunity to clinch a berth to the Stanley Cup Final at home in Game 4. And that's exactly what they did, beating the San Jose Sharks 4-2 to complete the sweep in the Western Conference Final. Here are three things we noticed in the win:

1. Dustin Byfuglien for the win

Byfuglien was really good in the Vancouver series. He was great against San Jose.

To cap off the Western Conference Final, Byfuglien scored the go-ahead goal with 5:55 left in regulation to put the Blackhawks in front 3-2. It was his fifth straight game with a goal, and third game-winner (all against San Jose).

Big Buff put a stamp on his work in Game 4 and it was a treat to watch.

2. A defensive clinic

The Blackhawks were a high-powered offense in 2010, but Game 4 was all about the defense.

The Blackhawks allowed a postseason-low 18 shots on goal and four high-danger chances in 60 minutes, according to Natural Stat Trick. Antti Niemi faced only three shots in the third period. It was a defensive masterpiece in an elimination game.

3. The tightest series of them all

The Blackhawks were better than the Nashville Predators in the first round. They were better than the Vancouver Canucks in the second round. And while they may have swept the Sharks, this was as even a series as you could find in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

In fact, the Sharks led in shot attempts (269-247), shots on goal (136-127), scoring chances (116-94) and high-danger chances (43-25), according to Natural Stat Trick. All four games could've gone either way, but the Blackhawks delivered in the clutchest ways, particularly on special teams, and it's why they didn't lose.

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