Blackhawks

Blackhawks 'could' recall Bickell after placing Tikhonov on waivers

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Blackhawks 'could' recall Bickell after placing Tikhonov on waivers

Andrew Shaw has kept in touch with Bryan Bickell on a regular basis since Bickell was sent down to the Rockford IceHogs more than a month ago.

“We text every week, I check in and see how he’s doing and he sees how I’m doing,” Shaw said. “That’s what friends do.”

The two friends may be back in the same locker room soon enough.

The Blackhawks placed Viktor Tikhonov on waivers on Saturday morning and coach Joel Quenneville said Bickell “could” be recalled. Tikhonov, according to generalfanager.com, carries a $1.04 million cap hit; his heading to waivers gives the Blackhawks the salary-cap cushion they would need (at least $950,000) to bring Bickell back.

[MORE HAWKS: Blackhawks' Marko Dano trying to simplify game, improve defensively]

Quenneville wouldn’t say Bickell is absolutely returning, but it’s certainly looking that way. The Blackhawks, be it Quenneville or general manager Stan Bowman, have said that once Bickell starts improving with the IceHogs, he could return. With Rockford Bickell has 14 points in 12 games, including a goal and two assists in the IceHogs’ 4-2 victory over San Antonio on Friday night.

“I haven’t seen him play. Reports are he had a real good start, good game last night, so we’ll see,” Quenneville said following Saturday’s practice. “It was probably tough and challenging knowing he’s been in the NHL for all that stretch. Definitely it gets your attention.”

Bickell did get off to a hot start with the IceHogs. He had at least two three-point games in mid-November, when the question first started arising again: was it time to bring Bickell back? Asked that in Vancouver on Nov. 21, Bowman said the team would, “assess as we go.”

“He’s been doing what we said when we sent him down: ‘You gotta get your confidence back, gotta get your game going.’ He’s playing a lot of minutes, a lot of situations down there,” Bowman said at the time. “The better he plays down there, the better chance he has to come back and help us.”

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Teammates were happy to see Bickell’s rebound in Rockford.

“He’s a guy a few years back who was a huge part of our team. He can be that guy, can play pretty much any line on our team from first line to third line and be effective,” Patrick Kane said. “I had some great times with Bicksie over the years, whether it’s on the ice or off the ice. I think he’s a great kid. I think he’s a very good hockey player, too. He can be a guy that can come back in, be re-energized and play well for us the rest of the year.”

BRIEFLY

- Marko Dano was not on the top four lines at Saturday’s practice. Asked what Dano needs to do more of, Quenneville said, “just be more consistent in the puck area both ways, be positionally aware, [have] strength in the puck, controlling it. Production, we’d like to see that as well, but we have six, seven, eight, nine guys in that area."

- Corey Crawford will start vs. the Winnipeg Jets Sunday.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks show urgency vs. the undefeated

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks show urgency vs. the undefeated

The Blackhawks finally got on the board for the season and did so in front of the 500th consecutive capacity crowd at the United Center.

Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis break down the impressive performance by the Blackhawks against the undefeated Edmonton Oilers and discuss how Jeremy Colliton’s message got through to Alex Nylander and the rest of the team.

Plus, after an impressive performance in net, should Corey Crawford get the next game vs. the Blue Jackets? And what does the future have in store for Kirby Dach? Jamal makes a bold prediction.

0:54 – Blackhawks finally show urgency in 2nd period

2:47 – Penalty kill starting to show some life

5:00 – Thoughts on the Shaw/Strome/Kane line

6:43 – Blackhawks eliminating some defensive breakdowns

9:23 – Big rebound performance from Corey Crawford

11:36 – Colliton’s message to Alex Nylander got through

15:21 – Brandon Saad has been a pleasant surprise early on

17:15 – Dominik Kubalik’s impressive performance

18:31 – Will Kirby Dach be with the Blackhawks all season?

22:42 – Does Crawford or Lehner start vs. the Blue Jackets?

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

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Four takeaways: Corey Crawford shines in Blackhawks first win of the season

Four takeaways: Corey Crawford shines in Blackhawks first win of the season

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center on Monday:

1. Blackhawks are in the win column

The Blackhawks said after morning skate that they weren't going to "freak out" about their 0-2-1 start despite talking all training camp long about how they didn't want to dig a hole in October. Still, Monday felt like a game they had to win going into a three-day break because they have to start generating some positive vibes within the locker room.

And they did just that.

The Blackhawks handed the Oilers their first loss of the season (5-1-0), but more importantly, they're finally in the win column for the 2019-20 campaign.

"We played really well," Corey Crawford said. "I think everyone was going. Guys were coming back to help out defensively, and just a good team effort. The PK was strong, even though we gave up that one [late], it was strong early in the game. Just nice to win the first one."

2. Second period? That's more like it

The Blackhawks have been happy with their first periods this season. They've been mostly happy with their thirds. It's the middle frame that's been their downfall.

The team addressed those struggles as a team the morning of the game, and they certainly responded.

According to Natural Stat Trick, the Blackhawks led in shot attempts (32-8), even-strength scoring chances (16-6), even-strength high danger chances (5-4) and, of course, the goal column (1-0) in the second period. That's more like it.

"That was the message today from the coaches was how much better we need to be in the second," Connor Murphy said. "We showed examples of when we've done that in the past and what it takes. I think we were just better at staying on our toes and we drew some penalties and got on the forecheck quick and kept their goalie from being able to make plays and for them to be able to come up ice."

3. Corey Crawford shines

You could've made a good argument that Robin Lehner should've started this game, especially coming off a solid outing on Saturday and his career numbers against the Oilers (5-1-2 with a 1.86 goals-against average and .943 save percentage). But the coaching staff went with Crawford and it proved to be the correct decision.

Crawford stopped 27 of 28 shots for a save percentage of .964 and faced nine high-danger chances at 5-on-5, none of which found the back of the net. His lone goal against came with 2:11 left in regulation and it was on a 6-on-4 power play for the Oilers. Overall, he was fantastic.

"He looked sharp as ever," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "He was really good. He did make some saves for us. That team has some weapons so they had some opportunities and he was there and just he's under control. It's something I've said about him before, he really gives the team confidence. I thought tonight he was really good."

4. Blackhawks shut down Oilers' top guns

The first line of Leon Draisaitl, Zack Kassian and Connor McDavid went into Monday tied for the most goals scored as a trio. When the three of them are on the ice at 5-on-5, they're controlling 57.1 percent of the shot attempts, 61.2 percent of the scoring chances and 68.8 percent of the high danger chances.

The Blackhawks held them in check. That line had 14 shot attempts for and 20 against at 5-on-5 and were on the ice for 11 scoring chances. The third line of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad did a terrific job of shutting them down.

"They all just got real big motors, big engine," Colliton said of the Saad-Kampf-Kubalik line. "They work and compete and they all bring a little bit different ingredient. ... Pleased with that line."

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