Blackhawks

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' win over Senators

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' win over Senators

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night:

1. Scott Darling shows no signs of rust.

In his first start since March 1 due to a hand injury that sidelined him for almost two weeks, Darling returned between the pipes and picked up right where he left off. He turned aside 33 of 34 shots to earn his 17th win of the season, increasing his league-leading save percentage to .933. He also improved to 5-0-0 in his last five starts, and has a .963 save percentage during that span.

Joel Quenneville told reporters after the game that Corey Crawford was "under the weather" or else he likely would have started.

2. John Hayden keeps it simple in NHL debut.

The 22-year-old forward logged 16 shifts for 8:44 of ice time and finished with a team-high three hits, the first of which came just five seconds into his first career NHL shift. A couple of defensive-zone draws cut into his ice time a bit, with the Blackhawks usually adding a second center in case of a faceoff violation, so some of his shifts were short.

Overall, Hayden kept it simple, and Quenneville was complimentary of him after the game, citing his physicality as an area that can be important to a team that doesn't have much of it.

3. Nick Schmaltz fills in nicely for Artem Anisimov.

As expected, Schmaltz was solid again at second-line center in between Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin. Despite not getting on the scoresheet, he played a key role in the Blackhawks' first goal of the game after battling for position in front of the net, stepping up in that aspect of the game with Anisimov out. Duncan Keith was credited with the goal, his sixth of the year.

Schmaltz was all over the ice, and you could see his confidence level getting higher every time he touches the puck.

The only flaw in his game is at the faceoff dot as he's won only four of 23 draws in his last two games, and fewer than 30 percent out of 205 tries this season.

4. Blackhawks penalty kill comes up big in second period.

Three of the Blackhawks' best penalty killers — Jonathan Toews, Marcus Kruger and Marian Hossa — committed minor penalties in the second period, with Hossa's coming immediately after Kruger's.

But the penalty kill unit came up large by killing them all off without any harm. They allowed only five shots on goal across those six minutes, which helped keep it a 0-0 contest heading into the third period.

5. Richard Panik snaps mini goal drought at crucial moment.

After scoring six goals in his previous nine games, Panik snapped a six-game goal drought by burying a power-play goal from Patrick Kane with 3:01 left in regulation to break a 1-1 tie. It turned out to be the game winner, his second this month and fourth this season.

Panik's goal gave him 18 on the year, tying him with Jonathan Toews for fifth on the team.

Are Canadiens eyeing possible trade with Blackhawks?

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USA Today

Are Canadiens eyeing possible trade with Blackhawks?

The NHL trade deadline isn’t for another two-plus months, but this is an important time of year because all 31 teams have a pretty good idea of what its roster is as the standings take shape going into the 2020 calendar year. 

Management groups across the league are starting to gather more information and dig deeper on players they could be interested in ahead of the Feb. 24 deadline, whether it’s a buyer or a seller.

One frequent observer in Chicago has been the Montreal Canadiens, who have heavily scouted both the Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin has been spotted multiple times at the United Center this season, including Sunday, and has made several trips to Rockford as well.

It’s believed the Canadiens are searching for a left-handed shot defenseman and that’s a position the Blackhawks have a surplus of. Erik Gustafsson, most notably, is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and there haven’t been any talks about a possible extension to this point, according to a source.

With Drake Caggiula (concussion protocol), Duncan Keith (groin) and Andrew Shaw (concussion protocol) sidelined, the Blackhawks have had the opportunity to evaluate some of their prospects at the NHL level recently.

Dennis Gilbert and Anton Wedin have gotten several looks already, and same with Adam Boqvist and Matthew Highmore, both of whom were recalled on Monday ahead of the Blackhawks' three-game road trip. Dylan Sikura was called up over the weekend and made his season debut on Sunday against the Arizona Coyotes.

It’s too early to speculate what the Blackhawks’ trade-deadline plans may be because it will likely be determined by where they sit in the standings come February, but it’s worth monitoring going forward, as we discussed on the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast. The Blackhawks and Canadiens are each five points out of a playoff spot in their respective conferences.

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Why are the Blackhawks so inconsistent?

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Why are the Blackhawks so inconsistent?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Charlie Roumeliotis and Nick Gismondi discuss the coaches getting involved in practice (0:40), the latest roster moves (2:45), Dennis Gilbert standing up for Alex DeBrincat (7:15), Robin Lehner's shootout struggles (13:45), the Blackhawks' inconsistency woes (17:45), performance vs. results (23:50) and the importance of the next eight games (27:35).

Listen to the full episode here or in the embedded player below:

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.