Blackhawks

Blackhawks hold off Blues, stay undefeated

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Blackhawks hold off Blues, stay undefeated

Patrick Kane hadnt been a part of a 3-on-0 before, although thered been some 2-on-0s in the past.

We had a couple 2-on-0s in Switzerland with me and (Bostons Tyler) Seguin, said Kane, recalling his EHC Biel days during the lockout. And we didnt score.

Tuesdays 3-on-0 had a much better result.

Kane scored on that very odd-man rush, and Corey Crawford stopped 32 of 34 as the Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 in their home opener at the United Center. Brent Seabrook and Viktor Stalberg also scored for the Blackhawks, who opened their season with a 3-0-0 mark for the first time since the 1972-73 season.

And it started in the most unorthodox way, with Kane, Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland skating unfettered toward Blues goaltender Brian Elliott. Kane and Sharp broke off at the end, with Kane finishing on the backhand.

Its something me and Sharpie talked about: if do get a 2 on 0 usually the guy will pass it off early or pass it around the hash marks top of the circles and give it right back, and its usually its an empty net, Kane said. Elliott played it pretty well. I had to bring it back to my backhand but it was a good feeling to score on that.

It was another great moment in an early season thats been full of them. The Blackhawks wanted to bring the intensity they had in their first two road games here for the home opener, and coach Joel Quenneville said they did.

Yeah, I liked the way we played, Quenneville said. They came on in the third and Crow stood his ground. It was a good pace to start and we had several high quality rush chances.

Yes. But a 3-on-0?

I dont know if Ive ever seen a 3-on-0 in our league. Youve probably got to go back a long time, Quenneville said. I dont know if they keep that stat.

Things got interesting in the third period, when the Blues were trying for their second comeback victory in as many nights. They outshot the Blackhawks 16-9, with Andy McDonald and T.J. Oshie scoring to make it 3-2. But Crawford would allow nothing more, closing the door on the Blues during a furious round of last-minute shots.

They definitely put some pressure on us, Crawford said. Our forwards did a great job, coming back and helping out our D with back pressure. They turned pucks over we were able to attack off of. Our D was doing well just to get the puck out and to our forwards. It was a little nerve-wracking at the end, but good.

The Blackhawks power play came through again. Crawford swept the puck away from the Blues David Backes on one end, and Duncan Keiths laser shot went off Seabrooks skate moments later for a 2-0 lead at the time. The power play, a punch line last year, is becoming effective again.

It starts with just good puck movement, Keith said. And we have two real good units, so maybe theres a little of that competitive edge to try and be good and have success. Its working so far.

Everythings working so far for the Blackhawks. Theyve bent a little but havent broken. Theyve avoided panic situations. Theyve gotten support from each other on the ice and its paid off in a 3-0-0 start. And this one was jump-started by a 3-on-0.

We knew they played last night and we wanted to jump on them early, Kane said. When youre fresh and they played a back to back, you want to jump on them early or jump on them late. It wouldve been nice to finish off a few, but to get one and get the crowd into it, its a good feeling when you play like that.

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

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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'

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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.