Blackhawks

Blackhawks cruise past Ducks, headed to Stanley Cup Final

blackhawkscup053015.png

Blackhawks cruise past Ducks, headed to Stanley Cup Final

ANAHEIM, Calif. — There’s a belief system that’s been instilled in the Blackhawks’ core for some time now.

It’s the belief they’ll find a way to get through different situations, whether they’re down in a game or, in the case of the Western Conference Final, down in a series entering Game 6.

Couple that belief system with the appropriate drive and talent, and you have a team heading to the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in the past six seasons.

Jonathan Toews scored twice and Patrick Kane had three assists as the Blackhawks beat the Anaheim Ducks, 5-3, in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final on Saturday night. The Blackhawks will play Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay beginning on Wednesday night.

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Blackhawks-Lightning Stanley Cup Final schedule]

Brandon Saad, Marian Hossa and Brent Seabrook also scored for the Blackhawks. Duncan Keith had two assists, and Corey Crawford stopped 35 of 38 shots for the victory.

For the Blackhawks, who are making this Stanley Cup trip for the third time since 2010, this series brought plenty of challenges. The Ducks were physical, determined to knock the Blackhawks off their game and through the boards, if need be. If that physicality took a toll on the Blackhawks, they weren’t showing it much. Two question marks remain: Bryan Bickell didn’t play past the early part of the second period, and Marcus Kruger — who took a big hit later — didn’t play over the final six minutes of regulation. Both remained on the bench, and coach Joel Quenneville said both “should be fine.”

As for the Blackhawks in general, they couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. Toews was the catalyst, scoring twice in the first period, his first giving the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead just 2:23 into the game. Toews’ power-play goal, which he scored about 10 minutes later, gave the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead and quieted the Honda Center.

“I don't know if one particular person made a difference. I think we played a good team game,” Seabrook said. “We came out of the gates hard. We wanted to play well to start the game. We knew how well they can start in this building, like (in) Game 5, so we wanted to come out and establish our game early.”

[WATCH BLACKHAWKS: Keith on Toews, Kane: 'No two guys I'd rather have on my team']

It didn’t dissipate in the second period. An odd bounce off the boards went right to Kane, who found a wide-open Saad, who found a wide-open net, for a 3-0 lead.

“That’s one of them, for sure,” said Saad, when asked if that was one of the easier goals of his career. “Being able to play with (Kane), there (have) been multiple times when things like that happen, but what a great pass backdoor.”

Hossa’s goal put the Blackhawks up 4-0 before Ryan Kesler scored late in the second period and Corey Perry scored midway through the third to make it 4-2. But Seabrook, who has come through with some big goals of his own this postseason, got his sixth of the playoffs to give the Blackhawks a 5-2 lead.

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

The Blackhawks got big performances throughout this series, from Keith’s ability to play nonstop (seemingly), to Toews scoring the last two goals in the Honda Center in Game 5 and the first two in Game 7 to Saad reminding everyone he’s going to get paid quite handsomely this offseason.

Now the young, fast, upstart Lightning wait. The Blackhawks will savor this for a day before focusing on Tampa Bay. The task isn’t complete yet for the Blackhawks, but once again, they’ve found a way to get where they want to be.

“We got ourselves to a seventh game, and we always say anything can happen,” Toews said. “Tonight we came out flying as a team and had contributions offensively across the board. I’d say it was our best game of the series, continuing with the pressure knowing they were going to respond as well.”

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.