Blackhawks

Corey Crawford stellar again as Blackhawks smother Avalanche

Corey Crawford stellar again as Blackhawks smother Avalanche

After Corey Crawford allowed just one goal against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, he said he’s felt better every game.

He apparently felt fantastic on Thursday night.

Crawford recorded his second shutout in his past three games, stopping all 38 shots he saw, and Marian Hossa scored twice in the Blackhawks’ 4-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The Blackhawks won their fourth consecutive game and have points in their last six (5-0-1). Jonathan Toews scored his second goal of the season, which proved to be the game winner.

Artem Anisimov had the secondary assist on Hossa’s goal, extending his career-best, nine-game point streak. Duncan Keith had two assists. Artemi Panarin scored his fifth of the season with 7:20 remaining in regulation.

It was another stellar night for Crawford, who has now stopped 103 of the 104 shots he’s seen in his past three games. He was once again tested early and often, but held up under the pressure as the Blackhawks were outshot 11-1 in the first 12 minutes, 47 seconds of the game.

“He’s been outstanding,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Again tonight, the first period comparable to the last few first periods we’ve seen, where he’s kept us in the game and we’ve had opportunistic scoring and put ourselves in a good spot. but single-handedly there, he made some big, big saves.”

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It has become a trend for the Blackhawks: struggle and get outshot badly early, then come back with a flourish. Tonight it was two goals in 38 seconds, first by Toews (a rebound off Keith’s shot) and Hossa’s first of the night. And just like that, the Blackhawks were in control.

Crawford again came up big late in the second period, when the Avalanche again pushed the pace and brought a flurry of shots.

“I was just trying to track the puck,” Crawford said. “Our [defensemen] are doing a good job of being on the side of the net, clearing stuff and taking away options on the side there. I just have to try to find the puck from the blue line and our guys are doing a great job with that on the rebounds.”

Hossa scored his second of the night, splitting two Avalanche defensemen off a great pass from Keith, for a 3-0 lead 55 seconds into the third period. Hossa, who certainly benefited from a rare long offseason, has five goals through his first 10 games.

“You know, sometimes when the puck goes in for you early you’re more relaxed. You don’t force things. Right now I think that’s what’s happening,” Hossa said. “I’m playing with two great players (Anisimov and Panarin). Find the open area and those guys can find you. Things are clicking.”

The Blackhawks are sort of clicking, too. Those starts are still an issue; the Blackhawks are not going to be able to win every game they’re slow out of the game. But right now they’re getting what they need from their top six forwards, and getting a ton from their goaltender.

Former Blackhawk Dustin Byfuglien considering future in the NHL

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USA Today

Former Blackhawk Dustin Byfuglien considering future in the NHL

Former Blackhawks player Dustin Byfuglien is taking personal time off to consider his NHL future, with sources speculating he may retire this year.

 

Byfuglien is 34 years old and currently plays on the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets announced on Sept. 13 that Byfuglien would be taking time off from the team, declining to cite an official reason for his departure.

“I met with Buff yesterday and we had some conversations and in the conversations, he indicated that he needed some personal time,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said last week to the Canadian Press.

Byfuglien has two years left on his contract, with an annual value of approximately $7.6 million.

Byfuglien was an eighth round, 245th overall draft pick for Chicago, entering the NHL in 2003. He played with the Hawks until 2010. In his NHL career, Byfuglien has played in 869 regular-season games, scoring 177 goals, 525 points and 1,094 penalty minutes.

While many fans of the Jets and Byfuglien may be sad if he does decide to retire (remember, nothing is official yet), it wouldn’t be unreasonable for Byfuglien be considering retirement considering his age. According to Natural Stat Tick and The Athletic, the average age for an NHL player during the 2017-18 season was 27.1, with Chicago and Winnipeg at the center of the bell curve. Byfuglien is seven years older than the median and while he isn’t the oldest player in the NHL by a long shot, he’s no spring chicken either.

Whatever Byfuglien decides to do, he has had an illustrious and impactful career in the NHL and we wish him nothing but the best going forward.

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Why Dominik Kubalik could be Blackhawks' breakout candidate in 2019-20

Why Dominik Kubalik could be Blackhawks' breakout candidate in 2019-20

Dominik Kubalik is somebody the Blackhawks have had their eye on for a while, and now he very well could be the team's breakout candidate for the 2019-20 season.

Drafted in the seventh round (No. 191 overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft by Los Angeles, the Blackhawks acquired Kubalik's rights in January for a fifth-round pick. They signed him to a one-year, $925,000 deal in May.

But even before that, the Blackhawks knew he would play a role for them this upcoming season.

"Dominik Kubalik, he is someone we expect to have a similar impact [as Dominik Kahun] next year," GM Stan Bowman said in April. "A dynamic offensive player, he's got size and speed, can score. We’re hoping he can come in and we're expecting him to be on the team and where he fits is going to be a question. We'll see where it plays out, but I expect him to be an offensive player for us."

Kubalik was named MVP of the top tier hockey league in Switzerland after finishing first with 57 points (25 goals, 32 assists) in 50 games, and adding one goal and five assists in five playoff games. He also stood out at the 2019 IIHF World Championship for the Czech Republic after compiling 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 10 games. 

"He’s probably as advertised," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "Going to be somewhat of an adjustment for him. He hasn’t played in North America before, so that’s good. But it’s still going to take some practices and games. So he’s another guy, excited to get him playing and see how it plays out."

Kubalik certainly strengthened his case of making the 23-man roster in his preseason debut on Tuesday against the Red Wings when he scored two goals and recorded five shots on goal. He's a player that likes to shoot, and his second goal in Detroit showed how heavy and deceptive of a shot he has.

"I think I'm playing pretty simple," Kubalik said. "I don't want to handle the puck for a while, I just want to put it as quick as possible to the net. If there's a chance to shoot I'm just going to take it. And I'm trying to use my speed, so those two are probably my biggest strengths." 

Similar to what they did with Kahun last season, it's easy to see a scenario where the Blackhawks give Kubalik a shot in the top-six right away. Obviously, he has to earn his spot, but there's real offensive upside and he could work well with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, and even be a threat on the power play.

Put that all together and Kubalik gives the Blackhawks some legitimate options on offense, which could be key for a team that relied so heavily on their top guys last season and didn't get enough scoring from their depth players.

"Obviously everything is pretty new," Kubalik said. "I'm just trying to get used to it as quick as possible. But I feel great. ... I'm feeling more and more comfortable and that's great. I hope it's going to continue."

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