Blackhawks end Circus Trip with bitter taste


Blackhawks end Circus Trip with bitter taste

LOS ANGELES – The Blackhawks had played a so-so game on Friday, got down 2-0, yet stormed back to beat the Anaheim Ducks in late regulation/overtime.

On Saturday, they got it handed right back to them by the Los Angeles Kings, a team that’s erased a few Blackhawks leads in past postseason outings.

Patrick Kane scored a power-play goal to set a new point streak for U.S.-born players, but Marian Gaborik scored twice, including the overtime winner, in the Kings’ 3-2 decision over the Blackhawks on Saturday night. The Blackhawks ended their Circus Trip with a 3-1-2 mark, but were just a period away from making that 4-1-1. The Kings, however, had other ideas.

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“Same exact game, opposite way,” said Kane, who now has a 19-game point streak. “It seemed like we wanted to sit back and play it safe, and obviously that doesn’t work in this league. Frustrating when that happens. It would’ve ben nice to get another insurance marker and build off that, but we sat back there and they took it to us.”

The Blackhawks built a 2-0 lead on Kane’s early goal and a second-period score from Niklas Hjalmarsson, who recorded his first goal of the season. But outside of that, this game looked a lot like Friday’s in Anaheim: the home team outplaying the Blackhawks through a good deal of it.

Scott Darling was strong through the first two periods, stopping the Kings’ 20 shots through 40 minutes. But in the third, the Kings finally broke through. Jeff Carter scored 52 seconds into the period and Gaborik tied it with 5:55 remaining.

“It sucks,” said Brent Seabrook, whose turnover led to Gaborik’s first goal. “I thought we played well, played well enough to win. Tough bounce at the end of the third and a lot of chances in overtime; that’s sort of the way the game went.”

Overtime was its usual 3-on-3 frenzied best. Both teams had their grade-A opportunities, with Gaborik breaking away for the winner 2:04 into overtime.

Lost in all of the craziness was Kane setting a new point streak for a U.S.-born player. He shared the previous record of 18 with Eddie Olczyk and Phil Kessel for just one day.

“Yeah, we congratulated him as soon as that happened,” Marian Hossa said. “It’s unique to be part of something special like this. He’s a special player and he’s got the big numbers in front of him.”

[RELATED - Blackhawks: Patrick Kane sets NHL record]

The Blackhawks didn’t end this trip exactly how they wanted. They got eight points out of a possible 12. But they were close to getting that ninth and finishing that much better. They just played too conservative with that lead which, against the Kings, hasn’t been safe in the past.

“I guess it’s natural to do that,” Kane said about sitting back on a lead. “At the same time, a lot of guys have played a lot of games in this league to know that’s not the recipe for success, the way games can turn on a dime. It’s pretty frustrating because going into the third up 2-0, looking like the trip’s going to end on a good note, and couldn’t follow it through.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: The Blackhawks' big win over the Capitals


SportsTalk Live Podcast: The Blackhawks' big win over the Capitals

David Haugh, Jason Goff and Jordan Bernfield join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00- Pat Boyle and Patrick Sharp drop by to talk about the Blackhawks' big win over the Capitals. Plus, Sharpie talks about the young Hawks who will be stars in the future.

12:00- Super Bowl LIII is set after a dramatic and controversial Championship Sunday. Does the NFL need to expand instant replay to include pass interference after a no-call cost the Saints a Super Bowl bid? Plus does the league need to change its overtime format after Patrick Mahomes didn't get to touch the ball at the end of the AFC title game?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast


Blackhawks notebook: Kane-Toews chemistry, Seabrook's contract, Crawford update and Smith's role


Blackhawks notebook: Kane-Toews chemistry, Seabrook's contract, Crawford update and Smith's role

It's no surprise that Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews each had offensive explosions after getting put on the same line together on Sunday against the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. But at the same time it was.

The duo played 273:28 minutes at even strength together last season, according to, but had a minus-6 goal differential during that time. It was bizarre because they controlled 56.9 percent of the shot attempts and 60.5 percent of the high-danger chances.

Perhaps the hockey gods are repaying them for what they deserved a year ago. Or those are the results you're eventually going to get when you put two future Hall of Famers on the ice at the same time.

“For an offensive guy that wants the puck, he’s pretty much the perfect center to play with," Kane said. "He wins a lot of battles, he wins faceoffs, he’s obviously able to make plays and he can get to the hard areas, too, so he opens up a lot of space. We haven’t played with each other a lot over the past handful of years, but we played a lot together early on, so I think sometimes we just kind of revert back to what we did back then. It makes the game simple. It’s not like you have to think too much or even talk too much about what we want to do. We just want to work hard, win battles and play well defensively. If we do that, we should get a lot of chances.”

Toews turned the clock back before he and Kane were even in the NHL.

"I remember since we were like 12 or 13 playing against each other in Triple-A hockey, he was one of the smallest guys out there and he just seemed to be able to handle the puck so well even at that age," Toews said of Kane. "He could back defenders off and create time and space. He was tough to check because he was slippery and he was just deceptive. I think that's what sets him above everybody else in the league and most star players that maybe can take advantage of skating, size and speed where he doesn't really need any of those things. He's so smart when he gets the puck."

Whether or not they stay together for the long term remains to be seen, but the when Nos. 19 and 88 are clicking, usually the Blackhawks are too.

Brent Seabrook's contract

It's no secret in Chicago that Seabrook's contract sticks out as one that won't exactly age well for the Blackhawks under a salary cap system. At age 33, he's in Year 3 of an eight-year deal that carries a $6.875 million cap hit. 

While his best years on the ice may be behind him, his teammates believe Seabrook is still as important as ever inside the locker room and the team unity. Kane came to his defense on Monday after practice in response to a question about the core veterans trying to sustain a winning culture in a trying season.

"People want to get on Seabs about his contract," Kane said. "But to us, he’s underpaid [for] what he brings in this locker room and the way he’s such a great leader, such a big part of this locker room, takes in every guy just like he’s known him his whole life. He’s an unbelievable teammate. Even that game when we missed him when he was sick, you lose your heart and soul of the team a little bit because he’s such a big piece."

Corey Crawford update

Jeremy Colliton's playing career was cut short because of his concussion history. He knows exactly what Crawford is going through, which means he knows how to handle his situation from a coach's perspective.

Crawford skated with the team for the first time over the weekend, but Colliton cautioned not to read anything into it. He didn't provide much more information than that.

On Monday, Colliton offered a longer-form response on why he's been mum about Crawford's status:

"Him going on the ice, I said it two days ago, not to read too much into it. It’s going to be a process here. The day-to-day, it doesn’t really matter. It’s over time. Is he feeling better? Is he progressing? I’m not in his ear, 'How are you feeling?', asking [head athletic trainer Mike Gapski], 'How’s Crow feeling?' It doesn’t help me, it doesn’t help him and minute-to-minute, it doesn’t matter. It’s over time, how does he feel, is he getting better? Did I talk to him today? Yeah I talked to him today. But I didn’t ask him how he was feeling. Because day to day, it’s a non-issue. I just want him to be happy and over time, feel better. And then we’ll see if he can play at the end of that."

Barry Smith's role

When Blackhawks practiced wrapped up on Monday, Smith addressed the team in a huddle, got a stick tap ovation and received a handshake from every player. This was his last practice as the assistant coach, and Tuesday vs. the New York Islanders will be his last game behind the bench before Sheldon Brookbank officially takes full control of those responsibilities along with Don Granato.

After Tuesday, Smith will transition back into his role with the Blackhawks as Director of Player Evaluation.

"Certainly his experience and just his presence," Colliton said on what Smith brought to the table. "Great guy, very, very fun to be around. I knew him from last year, he’d been around Rockford. We were a little bit shorthanded and he left his wife and his previous life, lived in a hotel for two and a half months and was a great resource for me and the staff, and really appreciate that. He’s been through the wars already, so for him to come back into it was very selfless of him, I thought."

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