Blackhawks

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime win over Devils

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime win over Devils

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night:

1. Corey Crawford continues to shine.

If it weren't for Crawford and his timely saves, the score and outcome may have been completely different. He's clearly been the MVP of the team so far this season and showed why again after stopping 30 of 32 shots — 28 of those in the first two periods — in Friday's overtime win over the Devils. Crawford has allowed 17 goals this season, but 13 of them have come on the power play. His even strength save percentage improved to .971, which ranks No. 1 among all starting goaltenders.

2. Patrick Kane getting hot.

Kane is on a quiet little three-game point streak, and has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his last six games. It was Game 6 last year when he started a streak of registering at least a point in 26 consecutive games, a franchise record. His three-game point streak began on the sixth game this year, too. Could we see another lengthy one coming? Probably not, but it's worth watching how this plays out.

3. Artem Anisimov extends point streak, improves at faceoff circle.

Anisimov extended his point streak to a career-best six games, and scored his second game-winning goal of the season. He now has five goals and five assists during that streak, in which the Blackhawks are 4-1-1, on top of a plus-8 rating and an astonishing 45.5 shooting percentage.

He's also gotten a slow start at the dot this year, but fared much better against the Devils, winning eight of 16 draws. Entering Friday, he won only 35 of 100 faceoffs.

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4. Special teams come up big.

The Blackhawks' penalty kill allowed another goal, but it moved above 50 percent on the season and killed off a crucial penalty towards the latter stages of the third period while trailing 2-1. After killing off a Patrick Kane slashing penalty, the Blackhawks went on a four-minute power play thanks to a Vernon Fiddler double-minor high-sticking penalty and they capitalized.

With 2:11 left and Crawford pulled for the extra attacker, Marian Hossa potted the game-tying goal that essentially forced overtime. It was the second power-play goal of the game for the Blackhawks, who finished 2-for-5 on the man advantage and went 3-for-4 on the penalty kill. Progress.

5. Top dogs get heavy minutes.

After relying heavily on his top guys in a 5-4 shootout win over Toronto last Saturday, coach Joel Quenneville said he wants to balance out the lines more and distribute the minutes more evenly throughout the roster.

The top two lines absorbed the majority of the ice time on Friday, led by Patrick Kane (23:34) and Jonathan Toews (22:48), but it was justified this time around considering a chunk of that time was spent either on the power play or penalty kill.

Evaluating where things stand for Blackhawks as negotiating window opens for NHL free agents

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AP

Evaluating where things stand for Blackhawks as negotiating window opens for NHL free agents

VANCOUVER — For more than two months, the Blackhawks had been primarily focused on the 2019 NHL Draft because the hockey gods gifted them with the No. 3 overall pick and a chance to speed up the retooling process in a significant way. They used that selection on Kirby Dach, a 6-foot-4, 198-pound right-handed shot center who’s projected to be a future first-liner for many years to come.

But now all the attention has shifted to Sunday, when the negotiating window for NHL free agents opened up. And the Blackhawks are expected to be one of the more active teams throughout this process as they prepare for July 1.

With the NHL and NHLPA officially setting the salary cap ceiling for the 2019-20 season at $81.5 million — a $2 million increase from last season but $1.5 million less than the original projection — general managers can finally calculate their financial plans internally as they approach the legal tampering period. The Blackhawks aren’t one of those teams where they’re living and dying by how much the upper limit fluctuates, but it’s still noteworthy that they’re projected to have $16.5 million in cap space, according to Cap Friendly.

However, that does not include the potential new deals for their restricted free agents. 

Stan Bowman said after Saturday’s draft that Brendan Perlini will be re-signed. Dylan Sikura is expected to be as well, as is Gustav Forsling. John Quenneville, who was acquired for John Hayden, is also a RFA and is expected to receive a qualifying offer but it’s unclear whether he’ll factor into the Blackhawks’ plans next season. So they don’t have an unlimited supply of money to spend.

But they certainly have enough to add an impact-type player.

Over the last month, the Blackhawks have been linked to Kevin Hayes (before his rights were traded to Philadelphia and signed a seven-year, $50 million deal), New York Islanders captain Anders Lee and six-time 30-goal scorer Corey Perry, to name a few. That indicates the Blackhawks are in the market for a middle tier player, not the upper (sorry Chicago, but the Artemi Panarin homecoming always has been a pipe dream).

The other option is to continue exploring the trade market.

The Blackhawks already acquired defenseman Olli Maatta, but that was a deal executed because it didn't require subtracting a key piece of the roster. It really could come down to whether the Blackhawks want to handpick who they want via trade and give up the assets to do it or potentially overpay — both in dollar amount and term — on the open market, which could present challenges down the road when Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome and even Erik Gustafsson — depending on if he fits into the budget — are due new deals.

If it's the former, the Blackhawks prefer overpaying for the right player — somebody like Perry or Joe Pavelski on a shorter-term deal despite a higher cap hit would be ideal to help bridge the gap as far as responsibilities put on the younger players. If it’s the latter, the Blackhawks will pull off a trade for a high-end player only if it makes sense for the short term and long term because the offseason is a time to enhance the roster for both.

Bowman doesn’t know exactly how the next few weeks are going to play out, but you can bet that he’ll have his phone attached to his ear looking for ways to improve the roster and help turn the Blackhawks into a consistent playoff contender again. 

“We have a good position right now,” Bowman said. “For next season, we're in a better place than most teams. After that, it's hard to say, because we don't know what the cap will be a year from now and we've got a couple players that are going to graduate to new contracts a year from now. Not a lot of free agents take one-year contracts, so that's the thing — if you're going to sign a free agent, you've got to look at what's going to be the implication two years down the road. So from that perspective, trades might be more appealing to us than necessarily adding a top free agent. We're going to have some new players for next year, but I don't know if it's going to be free agents or through trades.”

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Hawks Talk Podcast: Recapping Blackhawks draft and looking ahead to free agency

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Recapping Blackhawks draft and looking ahead to free agency

VANCOUVER — Day 2 of the NHL Draft kicked off with a bang as PK Subban was traded out of the Central Division and Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis recap a busy weekend in Vancouver. The guys break down how Wilmette native Alex Vlasic could be a steal in the 2nd round and Pat catches up with the newest Hawks’ defenseman prospect.

Plus - why their trade with the Devils bringing back a Quenneville to Chicago could be a good change-of-scenery for both sides and GM Stan Bowman looks ahead to the next 10 days where there could be a lot of movement with trades and in free agency.

0:30 – Morning trades shook up day 2 of NHL Draft

1:57 – John Hayden traded for John Quenneville

3:36 – Thoughts on Blackhawks drafting Alex Vlasic

5:29 – Interview with Alex Vlasic

7:48 – Vlasic’s NHL projections

9:11 – Hawks prioritize adding size in draft

10:41 – Will Bowman be active in trade market?

12:16 – Stan Bowman on the next moves for Hawks

14:26 – How Hawks will fill out roster in next 10 days

15:22 – Does Corey Perry fit with Hawks next season?

17:30 – Blackhawks interested in Christian Dvorak?

18:57 – Dach’s chances of making NHL immediately

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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