Blackhawks

Blackhawks acquire Oduya; deal Scott

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Blackhawks acquire Oduya; deal Scott

The Blackhawks have been struggling defensively all season. And in the aftermath of the Brian Campbell trade, the onus of his work was put on rookies or guys not far removed from that status.

In acquiring Johnny Oduya today, the Blackhawks hope to alleviate that.

The Blackhawks got Oduya from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a second- and third-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. The move filled general manager Stan Bowmans desire to get a defenseman, and gave the Blackhawks another veteran presence back there.

His style fits in with what we do here in terms of ability to skate, Bowman said. Hes one of the better skating defensemen in the NHL. Hes got a lot of experience, hes played on good teams and hes played a lot of minutes. With our team right now hell be a nice, calming influence on some of our players.

For the 30-year-old Oduya, who spoke via conference call on Monday afternoon, its another opportunity.

Theres excitement, for sure, said Oduya, who will be at Blackhawks practice Tuesday and is expected to play Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Any time youre in a position where youre battling for a whole year, you obviously dont want to leave your teammates or friends behind. But theres an excitement getting to Chicago. Its a really good team and a great place to play.

Oduya has played more penalty kill than power play and said he isnt afraid to block shots he has 98 of those so far this season. Oduya is also a puck-moving defenseman. No, hes not Campbell. But hes more used to playing that style of game, while youngsters like Nick Leddy and Dylan Olsen were thrown into that work with little experience at it this season.

Weve got some young guys -- Leddys just got 100 games under his belt and Dylans come in and played as well. But we could use that experience, Bowman said of Oduya. The way he can skate with the puck and make plays, I think he can eat up important minutes with our defense. Its a crucial time for our team, but solidifying that back end is something weve talked about for a long time. He brings a lot to the mix.

The Blackhawks defensive corps got a lot younger when Niklas Hjalmarsson and Steve Montador went out with their injuries. Both Leddy and Olsen have promise, but heaping so much on their shoulders at such a young age could hinder more than help. Will Oduya help the Blackhawks defense right the ship? Is he enough? The Blackhawks have a tough final stretch looming. Theyre hoping this gives them a little more security along the blue line.

In terms of where hell fit I dont know, Bowman said. But I expect him to eat up a lot of the minutes that are being spread around right now.

A look at how far Blackhawks have come to battle themselves into playoff picture

A look at how far Blackhawks have come to battle themselves into playoff picture

For a brief moment on Wednesday night, the Blackhawks found themselves sitting in the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference. Then the Avalanche won, bumping them out because Colorado owns a higher points percentage by having a game in hand.

But it was enough for the city of Chicago to look at the standings and go to sleep wondering: How the heck did the Blackhawks get here?

Think about this: Just 32 days ago, the Chicago Blackhawks were in the basement of the entire National Hockey League. Dead last. And now they're knocking on the door.

To put it all into perspective, let's visualize it. Here's a look at the Blackhawks' day-by-day playoff percentage change this season, courtesy of sportsclubsstats.com:

At one point, the odds were as low as 0.05 percent, which came on Dec. 16 after a 7-3 loss to San Jose. It eventually reached 1.43 percent on Jan. 6 following a 5-3 victory over Pittsburgh, but regressed back to 0.3 percent on Jan. 19 after losing their fifth straight against the New York Rangers.

Since that point, the Blackhawks' chances have increased to 19.6 percent. It's the first time the odds are above 18 percent since Nov. 7, which was the day after Jeremy Colliton took over as head coach. It's truly amazing how far they've come, and how poor the West has been that has allowed a playoff berth to be remotely possible.

To make things even more exciting in Chicago, the Blackhawks have a gigantic weekend with pair of home games against the Avalanche and Dallas Stars, both of whom occupy the two wildcard positions.

Imagine the updated graph if the Blackhawks can turn those into regulation wins...

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Hawks Talk Podcast: Patrick Kane streaking into wildcard weekend in Chicago

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AP

Hawks Talk Podcast: Patrick Kane streaking into wildcard weekend in Chicago

On the latest Hawks Talk podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis preview a wildcard weekend in Chicago, discuss Patrick Kane continuing his point streak, the latest on Corey Crawford, what Colin Delia needs to work on, and how the Hawks will approach the trade deadline.

1:00 - Hawks winning when not playing their best

1:45 - Kane extends point streak to 19 games

3:00 - Can Kane surpass his previous 26-game point streak?

8:33 - DeBrincat reaches 33 goals this season

10:30 - Hawks get ready to take on Avs and Stars

13:30 - Update on Corey Crawford status

16:00 - Crawford play before the trade deadline?

17:30 - Crawford being around affecting Colin Delia?

18:30 - What Delia needs to work on

21:00 - How the Hawks will approach Monday's trade deadline

14:00 - Is Gustav Forsling the only defenseman the team would move?

26:00 - Are Perlini and Sikura part of the long-term plan with the Hawks

28:00 - How Artem Anisimov's contract will affect his future with the Hawks

29:00 - Would the Hawks be willing to move Brandon Saad?

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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