Blackhawks

Blackhawks gain a point but fall to Flames in overtime

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Blackhawks gain a point but fall to Flames in overtime

CALGARY, Alberta – There’s something about the way the Blackhawks’ backup goaltenders play in the Saddledome that always gives the team a chance.

On Friday, however, even Scott Darling’s great outing wasn’t enough to salvage two points out of the Blackhawks’ otherwise lackluster performance.

Darling stopped 35 of 37 shots and Patrick Kane extended his point streak to a career-high 15 games. But the Blackhawks lost to the Calgary Flames 2-1 in overtime. The Blackhawks have gotten points in four consecutive games and five of their last six.

Artem Anisimov scored his eighth goal of the season. Kane’s secondary assist on that goal gave him points in 15 consecutive games.

After stopping all 14 of Calgary’s shots in the third period it looked like Darling may steal another point for the Blackhawks in overtime. But Johnny Gaudreau stole the puck from Brent Seabrook and scored for the Flames, who outplayed the Blackhawks most of the night.

“We had a couple of memorable ones, Ray Emery sticks out,” coach Joel Quenneville said of backup goaltenders up here. “The third we started off all right but then they had some great rush chances late in the game. We gave the puck away four times in a short amount of time in overtime. You can’t give it away once, let alone four [times].”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Despite another slow start and the Flames getting out to a 1-0 lead on Sean Monahan’s goal, the Blackhawks finished the first in a 1-1 tie. Anisimov’s equalizer came 13 seconds into the Blackhawks’ first power play of the night. The Flames, however, had a lot more shots – 37 to the Blackhawks’ 19 – and a lot more quality scoring opportunities.

“I don’t think we played our best game,” Duncan Keith said. “Give them credit: they came out hard and they did what they had to do to win. But, you know, we can be better.”

If not for Darling, the Blackhawks probably lose this game in regulation. From the third period on the Blackhawks were outshot 20-4; they didn’t record any shots in overtime.

“He was a big reason why we got the one point, the biggest reason why we got that one point,” Keith said. “He played great and kept us in the game.”

The Blackhawks didn’t play their best hockey in their last two games. Still, they managed three out of four points.

“It’s definitely not frustrating to get three out of four,” Darling said. “We didn’t have our best game so we can definitely improve off this game and the last game. I think we’ll be fine.”

Perhaps, but there’s no doubt the Blackhawks need to play better. The competition is going to be tougher as they go on this trip and throughout the season. Pretty good won’t be good enough.

“Coming off a win, and I didn’t like the way we played [in Edmonton],” Quenneville said. “Today’s game, I thought we were better than we were the other night but it’s still not good enough to get it done.”

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.

NHL Draft Profile: F Filip Zadina

NHL Draft Profile: F Filip Zadina

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

Filip Zadina

Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-0
Weight: 195 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"He's got the puck skills, is a good skater, and is a guy with some high-end offensive talent. He wants to get right in there and play where it's hard and where you get rewarded. When he gets that puck on his stick, he wants to bury it."

NHL player comparable: Marian Hossa

Fit for Blackhawks:

You know who the Blackhawks missed last year? Hossa. It's not mentioned enough when analyzing what went wrong in 2017-18. 

Well, Zadina is a player who's got the upside of Hossa and is one of a few prospects who could potentially crack the NHL lineup this upcoming season. The scouting report above is all you need to know about Zadina's style of play, and Blackhawks fans surely nodded through the whole thing because it's exactly what the team is looking for.

However, this is a case where the Blackhawks would have to trade up to snag him if they want him, because there's little chance he'll be on the board when the eighth pick rolls around. And it's probably unlikely they would do so, given what it may take to move up a few spots.