Blackhawks

Balanced attack allows Blackhawks to blow past Red Wings

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Balanced attack allows Blackhawks to blow past Red Wings

DETROIT — For so long this season, the Blackhawks have leaned on that second line for consistency and, more importantly, offense.

And while that line’s wings still played a big part in Wednesday night’s victory, the Blackhawks overall are starting to look more balanced, more polished and more prepared for the postseason.

Artemi Panarin had two goals and Patrick Kane and Brent Seabrook each had a goal and two assists as the Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings, 5-2, on Wednesday. The Blackhawks moved back into first place with 85 points; the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues, both idle, are second and third, respectively, with 83 points.

Corey Crawford, who was selected to Team Canada for the World Cup of Hockey earlier on Wednesday, stopped 31 of 33 for his 34th victory. That’s a new career mark for a season for Crawford. Duncan Keith had two assists, and Andrew Ladd scored his first goal in his second go-around with the Blackhawks. Christian Ehrhoff had a strong outing in his Blackhawks debut.

The Blackhawks liked how they looked coming out of Sunday’s game against the Washington Capitals. They were pretty happy with Wednesday night, too, as they once again played a strong game from start to finish. When they did make mistakes, Crawford was there to clean them up.

“I thought we had a good game across the board,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I liked the new guys’ contributions, the depth and the balance and the rotation on the four lines. I thought Christian looked very comfortable back there and made good rushes, had a great chance to score. But I thought our team game with the puck was good.”

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Corey Crawford among Blackhawks’ World Cup of Hockey selections]

Kane and Panarin were big parts of that again. Kane set up the Russian rookie on both his goals, the 5-on-3 power-play goal and Panarin’s late one, which gave the Blackhawks a 5-1 lead at the time. Kane’s 37th goal of the season proved to be the game winner; he also tied a career high in points for a season.

“I was on a pretty good pace the last two years and got injured both years. I think I had 20 games left last year and 14 or 15 the years before. Had a good season the year before with the lockout,” Kane said. “It’s probably inflated a little bit this year, but at the same time, I think I’ve been trending in this direction. I give my line mates and teammates a lot of credit. The power play has been good this year, which helps, too.”

Seabrook was active from the start, his 13th goal of the season giving the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead just 2:23 into the game. He also helped set up Panarin’s first goal as well as Kane’s.

“Another guy who’s having a great year,” Jonathan Toews said. “We know he’s capable of having success. To see him being put in situations over and over and getting the results he wants and that he’s worked for, it’s a lot of fun to see. He’s a huge part of our team, offensively and defensively right now.”

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Crawford was at his best in the second period, when the Wings fired 16 shots at him.

“I thought we played well. We did the right things all game,” he said. “I thought our PK was strong and we took maybe a few too many (penalties) tonight, but our PK stepped up and was really good. That was a tough team, and we had to be ready. I think we did what we needed to for this one.”

Things are coming together for the Blackhawks right now. They’re more than happy with what the second-line players have done for them this season, but they knew everyone else had to start contributing more. Right now, they are.

“Our team seems to really be coming together with the trades we got,” Crawford said. “We have to keep building on this momentum and chemistry we have right now.”

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

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AP

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

The Blackhawks announced Monday that they have officially agreed to terms with forward Dominik Kahun, defensemen Lucas Carlsson and Darren Raddysh and goaltender Kevin Lankinen on entry-level contracts.

Kahun ($925,000 cap hit), Lankinen ($925,000) and Raddysh ($730,000) each signed two-year deals that run through the 2019-20 season while Carlsson's is a three-year deal that runs through the 2020-21 campaign and carries a cap hit of $792,500.

So who are these guys? Let's meet them:

Carlsson

Drafted in the fourth round (No. 110 overall) by the Blackhawks in 2016, Carlsson set a career-high with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 44 games this season with Brynäs IF of the Swedish Hockey League. He was tied for fourth among all blue liners with seven goals.

Carlsson, 20, doesn't have major upside, but he's a reliable, well-rounded defenseman and that's what drew the attention of Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley.

“When he’s on the ice, he makes things happen," Kelley told Scott Powers of The Athletic last summer. "I think what impressed the Sweden under-20 coach was Lucas’ ability to challenge in all three zones. He’s an active defensively. Offensively, he challenges. He keeps plays alive.”

Kahun

The 22-year-old forward spent the last four seasons with EHC München of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany's top professional hockey league, where he established career highs in assists (29), points (41) and tied a personal best with 12 goals, leading Munchen to their third straight championship in 2018 after recording four goals and 10 assists in 17 playoff contests.

He raised eyebrows at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, where he compiled five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games and won 55.4 percent of his faceoffs (41 of 74), helping Germany capture a silver medal.

“He has made an enormous step this year, has become much more stable and mature," German national team coach Marco Sturm said after the Olympics. "I am sure that he would grab it in the NHL,” Sturm told the Hamburger Morgenpost.

Most recently, Kahun had a goal and two assists in seven games for Germany during the IIHF Men's World Championship. He's 5-foot-11, 176 pounds whose known to be a solid two-way player and can play center but may need some time to adjust to the smaller ice surface and NHL style of speed and physicality.

Lankinen 

Lankinen is 23 years old and coming off a season in which he was in the discussion for the Urpo Ylönen trophy, annually awarded to the top goaltender of the Finnish Elite League, after registering a league-best 1.33 goals against average and .946 save percentage in 15 games with HIFK.

He missed a large portion of the season because of an injury, but it didn't stop him from turning in a strong postseason, guiding his team to a bronze medal after posting a 1.99 GAA and .936 save percentage in 13 playoff games. The year before that, he led the league with seven shutouts in 42 games, backstopping his team to a silver medal.

This is a low-risk, medium-sized reward signing for the Blackhawks, who could use some more young goaltending depth in the pipeline, especially given how this season unfolded with the big club.

Raddysh

The Blackhawks signed Raddysh to a one-year AHL contract last June, and he turned it into an NHL one after a strong season with the Rockford IceHogs.

Raddysh, 22, accumulated 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 66 regular-season games with the IceHogs, and has appeared in each of the team's playoff games en route to the Western Conference Final.

Last season Raddysh was named the OHL's top defenseman after scoring 16 goals and 65 assists for 81 points in 62 games for the Erie Otters, where he was teammates with current Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat. He's the Otters' all-time leader in assists (143) and points (184) among defensemen.

Raddysh might be nothing more than a depth defenseman, but his development is worth monitoring because the offensive production is there and that's something the Blackhawks lacked this past season from their back end.

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

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AP

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

Days after putting his Gold Coast condo on the market, Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa revealed to a Slovakian newspaper that he is moving back to his hometown country and doesn't plan on returning to the NHL.

"I will not play hockey anymore," said Hossa, who missed the entire 2017-18 campaign due to a progressive skin disorder and the side effects of the medications involved to treat it. "I have a valid contract with Chicago for the next three years, but I have only one health and it does not allow me to return."

Because he has three years left on a deal that carries a $5.275 million cap hit, Hossa is not expected to sign his retirement papers until the contract is completed or else it would result in salary cap consequences.

The news is not surprising, but it officially allows the Blackhawks to move on without him in the fold roster-wise and toy around with some options this summer.

The first is stashing his contract on long-term injured reserve, as they did last season when they utilized the in-season preference.

The second, which Hossa wondered could happen, is finding a trade partner that would absorb the remainder of his contract, usually done by lower payroll teams aiming to reach the cap floor.

And it wouldn't be difficult trying to find a buyer, considering Hossa's actual salary is $1 million per year over the next three seasons. Hossa, of course, has a no movement clause but it's likely he would waive it given his status at this point.

The good news for Chicago is, the three-time Stanley Cup winner didn't rule out joining the Blackhawks organization in some capacity after his contract expires in 2020-21, whether it's in a front office role or as a team ambassador.

In 19 NHL seasons, Hossa accumulated 525 goals and 609 assists for 1,134 points in 1,309 regular-season games, and added 149 points (52 goals, 97 assists) in 205 postseason contests. He's one of 45 players in league history to net at least 500 goals in his career.