Blackhawks

Blackhawks fall into 3-0 hole with overtime loss to Predators

Blackhawks fall into 3-0 hole with overtime loss to Predators

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Blackhawks had finally broken through Pekka Rinne. Twice. They had their first goals of the series. They had their first lead of the series.

But after taking the initiative in the second period the Blackhawks went more into a defensive mode again. Against the Nashville Predators, who have shown they’ll take advantage of any chance, hop or bounce they get, it was an opportunity.

Now the Blackhawks are on the brink of elimination.

Patrick Kane scored his 50th career postseason goal but the Predators came back, with Kevin Fiala getting the overtime winner to beat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Monday night. The Predators take a commanding 3-0 series lead; they’ll have their first chance to eliminate the Blackhawks in Game 4 on Thursday night.

The Blackhawks were subdued after this one. Save a period or so, the Predators have outplayed the Blackhawks in these three games. Now the desperation is at an all-time high.

“Yeah, it’s not easy. It’s not easy. It’s a good team and they want it. They’re pushing themselves to the limit. But we have no choice. We’ve got to find a way to put pressure on them,” Jonathan Toews said. “We’ve got to make them realize that winning that fourth game is the toughest for any team in any series. We can be that team to try and frustrate them and put pressure on them, especially in their own building in the next game. You never know what can happen, so we’ll just focus on winning the next one.”

The Blackhawks had a 2-0 lead after two, thanks to goals from Kane and Dennis Rasmussen, whose first career postseason goal snapped the Blackhawks’ postseason scoreless streak at 177 minutes, 45 seconds. The 2-0 lead after two is edge that usually meant a victory for the Blackhawks in recent years. But nothing about this Blackhawks postseason has been typical, and just over 14 minutes into the third period, thanks to two Filip Forsberg goals, they were tied 2-2.

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“We got that 2-0 lead that was nice to have and even worse to give up,” Kane said. “They kind of took over in the third, we kind of sat back. They had way more chances than we did in overtime. It would’ve been nice to have a little pushback there, especially after it was tied up.”

Coach Joel Quenneville saw it a bit different, although he still saw a big shortcoming with the Blackhawks.

“I think even parts of the first two periods, our puck management tonight wasn’t as good as it had to be. It got us in trouble on a couple of plays but all three [Nashville goals] were pretty innocent how they materialized and turned into goals,” he said. “We didn’t give up many chances over 60 minutes and overtime but we didn’t generate much at the end because we didn’t keep the puck, put it in good areas or win enough puck battles. It might have come down to that.”

Playoff goals can be different, and the Predators’ third-period ones were. The puck caromed high off the glass behind the net and bounced in front, where Filip Forsberg punched it in. Ten minutes later it was Forsberg again, tying it 2-2. The Blackhawks challenged for goaltender interference but video review ruled it a good goal.

Crawford, who stopped 46 of 49 in the loss, didn’t have much to say about the wonky first goal or the challenged second one.

“I don’t know. The game is over,” he said to both. He was more vocal regarding the Blackhawks’ current state.

“I felt pretty good but there were some tough breaks on the goals. I think everyone is a little pissed off and a little angry. We should be,” he said. “We haven’t played our best hockey yet so it’s time.”

It has to be time. The Blackhawks haven’t put together a 60-minute game yet this postseason. They really haven’t come close. Maybe you can compare this to deficits in the past but, at the same time, times change. Personnel changes. Situations change. Can the Blackhawks come back from this?

“We’re going to have to,” Quenneville said.

NHL Draft Profile: D Adam Boqvist

NHL Draft Profile: D Adam Boqvist

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Adam Boqvist

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 168 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"Boqvist is a finesse defenseman who is very skilled, possesses excellent vision and tons of talent. He is fun to watch and full of surprises on the ice. He often plays bigger than his size and skated in his first games with Sweden's Senior National Team in April."

NHL player comparable: Erik Karlsson

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks would love to have Karlsson, who is probably being traded out of Ottawa this summer. Every team would love to have him. But that's not realistic for Chicago. So what if they drafted his potential mini me?

Boqvist is electric with the puck and has drawn comparisons to the Swedish defenseman as a best-case scenario.

There are two concerns, though. One is that he may need some time to develop at just 17 years old and his defense a work in progress. The second is that he's sustained head injuries over the course of his young career, which adds a little bit of risk to the equation.

If he can stay healthy and his development isn't rushed, there's major upside here. But are the Blackhawks willing to be patient? We're not so sure.

Should the Blackhawks explore bringing back Artemi Panarin?

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USA TODAY

Should the Blackhawks explore bringing back Artemi Panarin?

Here's an interesting development as we approach the NHL Draft: Artemi Panarin has informed the Blue Jackets that he's not ready to consider an extension "at this time" and because of that, Columbus is testing the market for the Russian winger, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.

Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen responded to the report shortly after in a statement released by the team:

"Artemi is an elite National Hockey League player. Our position has been that we want him to be a Blue Jacket for many years and that has not changed. He has a year left on his contract, so there is plenty of time to work towards that end. Should anything change moving forward, we will address it at that time and any decision we make will be in the best interest of our club.”

Ironically, Panarin was traded to Columbus on the afternoon of last year's draft as part of a blockbuster package that sent Brandon Saad back to Chicago. It shook up the hockey world, and has the potential to do so again.

Panarin is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019, but is free to sign an extension with Columbus on July 1. Clearly, that doesn't seem to be in the cards right now and it's why the Blue Jackets have to put out feelers. They can't risk losing him for nothing.

On the flip side, Panarin has every right to test the open market. He has one year left on his contract that carries a $6 million cap hit. He's due for a hefty raise, will be 27 years old next summer — the prime of his hockey career — and will certainly be looking for a long-term deal after accepting a bridge contract with the Blackhawks.

Speaking of whom, should his former team explore bringing him back to Chicago now that he's on the market?

Every general manager should and will do their due diligence and call for an asking price, Stan Bowman included. Those conversations might start with Alex DeBrincat or Nick Schmaltz, and if that's the case, you say thanks but no thanks and move on. 

The Blackhawks have the Nos. 8 and 27 picks in this year's draft as possible ammunition, but the Blue Jackets are ready to take that next step. They were up 2-0 in their first-round series before losing four straight to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. It's unlikely they'd be looking to center a potential deal around draft picks. 

The only way you even consider it from the Blackhawks perspective is if Panarin is guaranteed to sign a long-term extension at a price you're comfortable with, but that's one of the main reasons why they traded him in the first place. 

To cap it all off, trading for Panarin wouldn't even address the Blackhawks' biggest need and that's a Top 4 defenseman. Those don't grow on trees. The Blackhawks will have the cap space to sign a player like James van Riemsdyk to patch up their top 6. You can't say the same for the free-agent blue line group.

So while it may certainly be fun for Blackhawks fans to come up with possible trade scenarios to get Panarin back in an Indianhead sweater, it just doesn't make great sense for a variety of reasons.