Blackhawks

Blackhawks’ third line chipping in with defense, goals

Blackhawks’ third line chipping in with defense, goals

When trying to find a checking line, defense comes first.

The players on that line have to be responsible, they have to win some faceoffs and if they generate some offense along the way, even better. And after tinkering with some combinations, it looks as if the Blackhawks have found their checking line.

Dennis Rasmussen, Marcus Kruger and Richard Panik seemed like a good group even from the start: some defensive responsibility for what’s usually the Blackhawks’ checking line, plus a forward who went on a scoring streak to start the season. Together a few weeks now, the Blackhawks may have finally found their third-line combination.

Rasmussen, Kruger and Panik have given the Blackhawks good defense and a few goals here and there, and have been a good part of the team’s current winning streak. For coach Joel Quenneville, the line combines the best elements, especially defensively.

“They’re responsible in ways,” he said. “You have two guys who can take faceoffs. We use them in our own end a lot. Sometimes we’ve been matching them up against top lines and so they get some assignments as well and if they can outscore that group it’s a real plus for us. But they spend some zone time, they get good cycles shifts and they’ve all been managing the puck well. It’s an area where there’s some improvement in our game. I think that line has been leading the charge as far as possession and down low in the offensive zone.”

And of course, it’s all about what you can add on the scoresheet. Rasmussen has two goals in his last five games. Panik has two in his last four, including the game-winner against the New York Islanders. Still, the two-way game is important, be it for an individual or for a line. So why has it worked so well between the three?

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!] 

“I think [we’re] just trying to make simple plays. We kind of find a chemistry and I think that’s good,” Panik said. “We have big bodies, so we’re using the corners and kind of trying to manage the puck in the [offensive] zone.”

Kruger said, “I think we try to do a little bit of everything and be responsible in our own end. Both of those guys [Panik and Rasmussen] are big guys who can hold onto the puck and play down low, too. That’s probably the best way to defend, playing in their own end. we’ve been getting some offense, too, which is nice.”

Rasmussen, especially, was frustrated at missing on chances he’s had recently. He’s feeling a lot better about his overall game now that he’s added some offense.

“If you score goals then you know you did something good out there. That’s kind of helps with the confidence and everything like that,” Rasmussen said. “Of course, it means a lot.”

Then there’s the communication.

“All of us think the game similar. Rasmussen and me and Panik really try to talk in between shifts, what we can do better, stuff like that,” Kruger said. “If they’re doing something we can adjust to, we try to talk about that. We’ve just been playing with some patience and trying to play the right way.”

Will the three remain together these last few games of December? The Blackhawks could be down a forward or two heading into Friday night – Marian Hossa and Artem Anisimov are both dealing with upper-body injuries. Even if Quenneville splits them to help the injury situation, he can return to a pretty reliable checking-line trio in the future.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Round 1 of the 2018 NHL Draft.

They discuss the pair of puck-carrying defensemen that the Blackhawks selected on Friday, Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin. When can we expect to see these first-round picks play in the NHL?

Boyle also goes 1-on-1 with Boqvist and Beaudin. The guys spoke with Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville on Friday.

The guys also share their biggest takeaways from those interviews, which includes your daily Corey Crawford update and Quenneville appeared excited that the team has plenty of cap space to spend in free agency.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Blackhawks add another defenseman to pipeline, draft Nicolas Beaudin at No. 27

Blackhawks add another defenseman to pipeline, draft Nicolas Beaudin at No. 27

DALLAS — Despite taking Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, the Blackhawks took a second defenseman at No. 27 with the selection of Nicolas Beaudin.

Beaudin is a 5-foot-11, 172-pound defenseman who prides himself on playing strong at both ends of the ice and tries modeling his game after Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins.

"I’m a two-way defenseman," Beaudin said. "I can provide offense, too. I’ve got a great IQ. I think in my zone I’m just getting better and better."

Beaudin is also a left-handed shot, which is something the Blackhawks could use more of in the organization along the blue line when it comes to impact-type players.

"Nicolas is a very efficient defender," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "He’s got a really nice skill set. He makes the game look pretty easy. He’s a smooth player, not a lot of panic to his game. He’s a good skater so when he has to turn back and get to the puck he can get there first. Usually he just gets his setup and makes the simple play.

"You watch him play and he makes it look really easy. He’s not a guy that’s getting run over a lot. He’s not a real big player, but he uses his brain really well and he had over a point a game, too. He’s got a good feel for making plays and scoring points."

The 18-year-old registered 69 points (12 goals, 57 assists) in 68 games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL, and added three goals and eight assists in 10 postseason contests.

Beaudin is the third defenseman the Blackhawks have taken in the first round the last two years, with Henri Jokiharju and Boqvist being the other two.

"It’s a winning culture in Chicago," Beaudin said. "They won a lot. I know they’ve got some young guys coming in. For sure in the next few years I want to earn my place and I want to try to learn a lot from a guy like Duncan Keith."