Blackhawks

Blackhawks go silent in shutout loss to Kings

blackhawkskings-slide-0314.png

Blackhawks go silent in shutout loss to Kings

Eighteen seconds. It was a time span the Blackhawks would like to replay, forget, something.

Because in 18 seconds the Los Angeles Kings took a lead their goaltender made sure the Blackhawks wouldn’t get near challenging.

Kris Versteeg had a goal and an assist against his former team and Jonathan Quick stopped all 32 shots he saw as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Blackhawks 5-0 on Monday night. The Blackhawks, who have won just one of their last five games (1-3-1), remain in third place in the Central Division with 88 points. The first-place Dallas Stars (91 points) were idle and the second-place St. Louis Blues (also 91 points) lost to the Calgary Flames.

[SHOP: Get your gear here, Blackhawks fans]

Quick was big early when the Blackhawks got nine shots on their first two power plays. He stayed strong throughout, and the Kings gave him plenty of offense on the other side.

Corey Crawford allowed five goals on 25 shots.

The Blackhawks did exactly what they wanted to in those first three minutes, firing five shots on their first power play. But just 17 seconds after that power play ended, Versteeg scored his first goal since being traded to the Kings; just 18 seconds after that, Milan Lucic’s goal made it 2-0.

Those few seconds, and the mistakes that occurred on them, hurt.

“Yeah, certainly didn’t help,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I liked the start, we collided with each other off the faceoff, fortunate bounce off two skates right to Steeger, and then the next one we give them a semi odd-man break, we’re down 2-0 right out of the gate. That’s exactly how you don’t want to begin a game. We couldn’t get one to get energy going.”

The Blackhawks weren’t good at either end of the ice in this one. They struggled to do anything offensively. Part of that was Quick. Part of that is the Blackhawks still not finding enough production from other lines, especially now that the second line of Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane have gone through a cool streak.

“Couple quick goals we give up and after that everything snowballs in the wrong direction for us,” Jonathan Toews said. “We couldn’t help our goaltender. Crow’s been unreal for us all year and these two games we’ve kind of hung him out to try. Collectively as a team, everyone’s to blame. At the end of the day, tough couple of games.”

[MORE: Blackhawks agree to two-year deal with Viktor Svedberg]

The Blackhawks have had a tough time finding consistency for some time now. They went on a 12-game winning streak in late December/January. They’re 9-10-2 since. That’s a tough pill to swallow for a team looking to stay atop the Central Division.

“We’ve had a tougher schedule, we’ve had some tough games. During this stretch our penalty killing hasn’t been great. Some nights it could’ve won us some games, getting the job done,” Quenneville said. “But that [winning streak] was a stretch where we made a lot of hay and put ourselves in a great spot. Now we’re not taking advantage of it, which is disappointing.”

The Blackhawks are still in the Central Division title hunt, despite these games. Still, they realize they need to be playing better hockey, and they need to start playing it now.

“You go in stretches where you win 12 in a row and we have this stretch now. We obviously want to shore that up before the playoffs and make sure we’re going in feeling consistent about our game,” Kane said. “We’ve been in a few of these games where they’ve been blowouts and we’ve been on the wrong side of them. We need to get rid of that, too.”

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.