Blackhawks hold off Ducks

Blackhawks hold off Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Blackhawks weren’t in the best spot entering Friday’s game, coming off two consecutive losses and minus captain Jonathan Toews, sidelined by an upper-body injury.

Still, the Blackhawks have always done well against the Anaheim Ducks in this Black Friday matchup, regardless of who’s been part of their lineup. And with everyone needing to do a little more to get a victory in Toews’ absence, everyone did.

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist and Ryan Hartman scored the game winner as the Blackhawks held off the Ducks 3-2 on Friday afternoon. The Blackhawks are now 3-3-0 on this Circus Trip, which concludes Saturday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

Corey Crawford stopped 34 of 36 shots for his 12th career victory against the Ducks. Artem Anisimov scored his ninth goal of the season and Brent Seabrook had two assists. This game has been in the Blackhawks’ favor for some time now; since the 2010 season, the Blackhawks are 5-0 against the Ducks on Black Friday.

“For whatever reason we’ve had a little success in this building the last few years,” Duncan Keith said. “If you go back further, we didn’t, so it’s a nice change.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Still, the Blackhawks may have been in a tougher situation in this one with Toews out. The second line – perhaps it was the top line today – of Artemi Panarin, Anisimov and Kane were expected to do that much more today and they performed well.

“I think for us, we just wanted to work hard, get pucks back, try to create,” Kane said. “We got a big goal there early off a faceoff in our end, scored on the power play and had some other chances. Today felt a little better. We had some more looks and got our chemistry back a little bit.”

The Blackhawks also got a big goal from Hartman, who scored after Marcus Kruger forced a turnover. At the time Hartman gave the Blackhawks a 3-0 lead but the Ducks would score 10 seconds after that goal (Nick Ritchie) and add a Jakob Silfverberg goal about nine minutes into the third. But the Blackhawks held off the Ducks, who also had a goal waved off in the third – replay confirmed Ondrej Kase batted the puck off his glove.

“[They had] quality at the end but I thought we did a pretty good job of not giving up the high-percentage shots down the middle,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “With as many face-offs as they won today, I thought we did a pretty good job of eliminating the quality.”

The Blackhawks could get Toews back against the Kings but that’s not certain. Either way, they’d like to finish with a victory and another successful Circus Trip. They needed to win today to get a chance at that, and in the captain’s absence, they got the all-around game they needed.

“That was a great game. Lot of pace to our game and making plays again today,” Crawford said. “Our D have been unreal; our D doesn’t get enough credit the way it battles in the corner, good sticks and get it up to our forwards. They do much out there to get, not just defense, but get it going on offense. Our top guys are pretty good at finishing off.”


Corey Crawford Keeps 2018-19 Mask Design

USA Today

Corey Crawford Keeps 2018-19 Mask Design

Corey Crawford is a man who knows what he likes. Hockey By Design on Twitter shared a photo of Crawford’s mask for the 2019-20 season and it looks like he will be rocking the same airbrush mask he did last season. The design, by Stephane Bergeron of Griff Airbrush, features the Blackhawks logos and feathers backed a by a sleek black mask. What can we say, Crawford keeps it classic.

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Blackhawks mailbag: Could more trades be coming before 2019-20 season opener?


Blackhawks mailbag: Could more trades be coming before 2019-20 season opener?

Charlie Roumeliotis answers your Blackhawks and hockey-related questions. Be sure to chime in using the hashtag #HawksMailbag on Twitter for a chance to have your question answered in the next edition. 

Is there any chance we see the Hawks make a trade before the season starts?

The Blackhawks had as active a summer as any team, revamping their roster and filling out their depth through trades and free agency. And because of that, it's going to be an extremely competitive training camp.

While the organization acknowledged that it's important to be 26, 27 players deep throughout the course of an 82-game season, the Blackhawks have a handful of players fighting for the same spot or two: Drake Caggiula, Dominik Kubalik, Alex Nylander, Brendan Perlini, Dylan Sikura and Anton Wedin. Heck, even Kirby Dach.

August is always the dead period around the NHL. But come September, it wouldn't be surprising to see some movement around the league when teams figure out what they have on the ice. Training camp and preseason games are a time for GMs to evaluate who may be getting squeezed out, whether there's a breakout prospect emerging and it's also when the pressure point of having to be compliant with the cap.

The Blackhawks could be one of those teams looking to make a tweak or two before Opening Night, but don't expect anything significant.

Do you think Nylander makes the team this year or does he spend another season in the AHL? If he does makes the team, who do you see him fitting on a line with?

Alex Nylander is going to be given a fair shot to make the Blackhawks out of training camp, and it would be a disappointment if he didn’t. He was taken No. 8 overall in 2016 and simply hasn’t taken that next step in his development yet.

Perhaps the situation in Buffalo played a role in that, but it will truly be up to Nylander whether he does unlock his true potential in Chicago. There isn’t a reason for him not to. It’s a much healthier situation and the spotlight isn’t on him.

If Nylander does make the team, expect him to play with offensively-gifted players — guys who can help bring out the best in his abilities and think the game at the same level. But playing with those types of players also means you're drawing top competition on a nightly basis, so he will have to earn it.

Do you think all the additions this summer may be a strategic move to help prepare the Hawks for the expansion draft? (Keeping the prospects off the team till midseason or something so they remain draft protected/ineligible?)

Good question. The summer of 2020 is going to be a fascinating one for the Blackhawks because that's when teams are going to start making some moves ahead of the 2021 expansion draft. And as of right now, the Blackhawks are going to expose a really good player, whether they pick the seven forwards and three defensemen option or the eight skater one.

Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews all have no-movement clauses, so they must be protected (unless the player approves of being exposed, which is highly unlikely). Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome are two others who must be protected, so that's six right there. Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw are two others who are eligible. Same with Calvin de Haan, Olli Maatta and Connor Murphy. And if Erik Gustafsson signs an extension, he must be protected also.

Again, the list is deep. But to answer your original question, the primary focus this summer was to fill needs across the roster (physicality and defensive-minded players) and doing so through trades was the best possible option because they were able to get guys with term and a reasonable cap hit. Free agency is where the overpayment happens. The goalie situation for the Blackhawks is one to watch ahead of the 2021 expansion draft. 

As far as prospects go, Adam Boqvist and Kirby Dach will not be eligible for the expansion draft no matter how many games they play in this season and next because the draft happens before the 2021-22 calendar season. So that will not play a role in the organization's decision regarding when they play in the NHL.

What are your expectations for the goaltending tandem in Rockford? Delia appears to be the current starter, but Lankinen was really impressive this summer for Finland. Small-ish sample size, but he was phenomenal. Do you think it will end up being an even split at some point?

Collin Delia may have signed a three-year extension with the Blackhawks, but that doesn’t mean the organization doesn’t want to give Kevin Lankinen a strong look also. Delia has earned the right to be the starter, but the split between he and Lankinen will likely be closer to 50-50 if both goalies are performing.

Lankinen was sensational between the pipes for Finland at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, helping lead his country to a gold medal. But Delia is also taking significant steps in his development and doing so at a rapid pace. It should be a healthy competition in Rockford.

With so much prospect talk focused on Dach, Boqvist, & Delia (and rightfully so) is there a dark horse prospect (I'm talking about that under the radar grinder) fans should keep their eyes on & where are they expected to be playing this year so we can follow?

Two prospects come to mind when discussing potential dark horses: MacKenzie Entwistle and Philipp Kurashev. Both of them will be playing in Rockford this season.

Entwistle and Kurashev took significant steps in their development this past season, with Entwistle playing a key role in the Guelph Storm winning the OHL championship and Kurashev leading the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championships in scoring with six goals in seven games.

Entwistle is a player who knows exactly what his role will be in the NHL and has already embraced it: a bottom-six forward, reliable penalty killer and a leader on and off the ice. And that’s something the Blackhawks value about him.

Kurashev is more offensively skilled and has some sneaky upside to be a potential breakout player as a fourth-round pick. Keep an eye on him.

Is it October yet?

This really has felt like a long summer, hasn’t it? We’re almost there, Zane. 

A few checkpoints are coming up on the schedule though that may help speed up the process: Traverse City prospects tournament from Sept. 6-11, training camp festival on Sept. 15 and the first preseason game on Sept. 16. We're getting closer.

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