Crawford earns seventh shutout of season as Blackhawks top Blues


Crawford earns seventh shutout of season as Blackhawks top Blues

The Blackhawks came out of Florida looking like their energy was depleted.

They’ve had a busy schedule, during which they went on a 12-game winning streak. But after two losses Blackhawks needed to find enough to get through these final two games before the All-Star break. Thanks in part to their goaltender again, the found enough on Sunday.

Artemi Panarin scored his 17th goal of the season and Crawford stopped all 25 shots he saw for his league-leading seventh shutout of the season as the Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 2-0. The Blackhawks remain atop the Central Division with 70 points, giving them a five-point lead over idle Dallas and a six-point edge over the Blues.

Andrew Shaw scored his ninth of the season.

The Blackhawks looked listless and drained when they faced the Florida Panthers on Friday, and they didn’t look too sharp through the first 20 minutes of this one, either. But they got enough through the final two periods to snap their two-game losing streak.

“Yeah, it was much better as the game progressed,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We didn’t have much going for us, we were chasing the puck around in the first period. They’re positionally, a strong team. They had a lot of possession, zone time and Crow had to make some saves as well. We settled down nicely in the second period. Not a high-chance game tonight but we did a good job of playing the right way, particularly the last 40 minutes.”

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Crawford was once again ready from the start. While the Blackhawks limited the Blues’ chances through the final two periods the opposition had 12 first-period shots, and Crawford got all of them. Still, he downplayed his latest shutout.

“I don’t know. It’s pretty good I think so far but I think this team is never satisfied,” Crawford said. “The D men are working so hard in front of me and limiting second chances and keeping a lot of stuff to the outside. I’m able to see pucks. It’s just a solid effort by our unit, I think, in our zone.”

The Blackhawks, shut out against Florida on Friday, found just enough offense on Sunday. Panarin was first, taking a pretty pass from Patrick Kane and scorching one from the left circle for the 1-0 lead the Blackhawks wouldn’t relinquish.

“Special play. The anticipation between the two is Sedin-like,” Quenneville said of Panarin and Kane. “And one timer, great shot; it may have gone off a stick. But the thought process of getting into that position, he anticipated that play.”

Shaw added to the lead about five minutes into the third period when he tipped Marian Hossa’s shot for a power-play goal. That was enough for the Blackhawks, who like the Blues played in their 52nd game tonight but had more energy late.

“You look at the schedule and how hectic it’s been but St. Louis has played the same amount of games. Tonight was a good test for us,” Shaw said. “They came out flying in the first there and we countered with a good second. We scored on some opportunities tonight.”

The Blackhawks still would’ve been in decent shape had they lost tonight. They would’ve remained in first place in the division, although their lead obviously would’ve been more tenuous. But they wanted a rebound effort. It didn’t look like they would get it after that first period but they summoned enough energy to get through that final 40 minutes.

“We’ve been playing a lot of hockey and not every game is going to be perfect. But still, that was a hard team,” Crawford said. “We stuck with it. We didn’t panic at all, showed good poise and just kept playing our game and started to make plays. It was a tight game so I think the most important thing was no panic out there.”

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."

Blackhawks select Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick

Blackhawks select Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick

DALLAS — For the first time since drafting Patrick Kane first overall in 2007, the Blackhawks owned a top-10 pick in the NHL Draft. There was speculation that Stan Bowman might get aggressive and trade the No. 8 selection for immediate help if a deal made sense.

Instead, the draft couldn't have unfolded more favorably for the Blackhawks, who elected to keep the pick and drafted defenseman Adam Boqvist.

“You can never have enough D," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said on the NBCSN broadcast. "He moves the puck, he’s very active in the play, very dynamic in a lot of ways. He can help our power play down the road, I am looking forward to seeing how he does in the summer and going into camp."

"There’s opportunity here on the back end with our team, and it’s going to be competitive along the way, but certainly you got a guy that can move the puck and get involved offensively, those guys are hard to find.”

Boqvist is a 5-foot-11, 168-pound right-handed shot blue-liner who's drawn comparisons to Erik Karlsson, given his skating and offensive ability.

"He likes to compare himself to Erik Karlsson quite a bit, which is good," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "When you watch him play, he's got that style to his game. You can sort of see he patterns his game after Erik. But he's honest too, he says I know I'm not Erik Karlsson, but I want to be my own player but I like the way he plays.

"Very likeable guy, upbeat kid, loves to play the game, has a passion for hockey. That's something that's always important because they're going to have to work their way up. Nothing comes easy even for players drafted this high. But you can tell he has a desire to keep getting better and to make it to the NHL."

He compiled 24 points (14 goals, 10 assists) in 25 games for the Brynas J20 squad in the SuperElit league, and added three goals and two assists in three playoff games. But his production dropped off when he moved up to the Swedish Hockey League, where he registered only one assist in 15 games.

As we mentioned in our NHL Draft Profile this week, there are a few concerns about Boqvist.

He's only 17 years old and his defensive work needs improvement, meaning the Blackhawks must be patient with his development. He's also sustained a couple head injuries over the course of his young career, which adds some risk to the equation, although Bowman denied having any concerns about that.

But there's clearly major upside if you're being compared to Karlsson as a best-case scenario.

"I think I need to improve my defensive play and need to be bigger and stronger," Boqvist said. "Of course, my offense can be better, too, so almost everything."