Blackhawks

Blackhawks capitalize in 'low-chance affair' as Crawford blanks Sens

blackhawks-win-0103.png

Blackhawks capitalize in 'low-chance affair' as Crawford blanks Sens

Duncan Keith was just trying to get Jonathan Toews’ attention as quickly as possible.

“I was just calling for (the puck) as loud as I could and hopefully Toews would get it to me,” Keith said. “He did, and I just tried to get it on net.”

He did, and it proved to be the game winner.

Keith scored his seventh goal of the season and Corey Crawford stopped 26 shots for his sixth shutout this season as the Blackhawks beat the Ottawa Senators, 3-0, on Sunday night. The Blackhawks have now won three in a row and jumped ahead of St. Louis to second in the Central Division.

Artem Anisimov scored his 15th goal of the season and third in as many games. Andrew Desjardins added an empty-net goal; Desjardins now has four goals and an assist in his last three games.

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Blackhawks acquire Richard Panik from Maple Leafs for Jeremy Morin]

On a night when there wasn’t a lot of flow and weren’t a lot of scoring opportunities, the Blackhawks had to take advantage of whatever chances they got.

“Yeah, we’ll take a win,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Certainly it was definitely a low-chance affair tonight, just the opposite of when we saw them in Ottawa, when it was up and down the ice with high quality at both ends. It’s probably the respect of knowing they’re dangerous off the rush, and they’re thinking the same way against us. It was hard to generate any kind of flow or offensive-zone opportunities. Duncs got a nice goal for us and loosened things up a bit.”

Anisimov scored off a Michal Rozsival rebound to give the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead six minutes into the third period. Desjardins added his empty-net goal with 47.9 seconds remaining in regulation.

“Obviously it’s nice to see Desi get some goals here lately. But any time you get that secondary scoring or guys like Desi chipping in on the offense, it helps our team so much,” Keith said. “Getting that empty-netter was a relief. Otherwise, they still feel they’re in it.”

Crawford, meanwhile, got the 18th shutout of his career. It wasn’t Crawford’s busiest night shot-wise, but one in which his focus was there from start to finish regardless.

“He wasn’t tested early, and sporadically they came at him,” Quenneville said. “But he’s been doing a good job for us.”

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

Crawford, who played in his 300th career game on Sunday, said he’s learned plenty in his last few seasons with the Blackhawks.

“Every year that’s the goal is to be predictable, consistent and give your team confidence going into games knowing what they’re going to get,” he said. “That’s definitely an important thing for a goaltender.”

The Blackhawks like how they’re doing as they near the midway point of the season. They’ve had some tricky moments, but they’re finding the right combinations and finding ways to win. They’re also finding each other on the ice at critical times, much like Toews did with Keith on Sunday.

“I don’t think we’re ever really satisfied with where we’re at, but we’ve improved from where we started. Having said that, we know there’s lots more room for improvement in what we want to do as a team and how we need to play,” Keith said. “It’s good there are lots of games left to do that.”

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

dominik_kahun_ap.jpg
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'

marian_hossa_ap.jpg
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.