Five Things: Artem Anisimov flying under radar for Blackhawks


Five Things: Artem Anisimov flying under radar for Blackhawks

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A little good, a little bad: the Blackhawks had a little of both in Friday night’s loss to the Minnesota Wild.

Certainly, this is a team still trying to figure things out, and their last several games prove that. When their defense has been stellar, the offense was quiet. On Friday their offense got going and their defense gave up too much.

You take the bitter with the sweet, realize this team, as Brent Seabrook said, has some work to do, and now they have to do it. So before we head home, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 5-4 loss to the Wild.

[MORE: Offense comes alive, but Blackhawks fall short in loss to Wild]

1. The defense had an off night. The Blackhawks gave up a few odd-man rushes. They struggled at times to get Minnesota out of their zone. What that ticked coach Joel Quenneville off most were those lapses at the beginning and ends of periods. The Wild scored two goals early in periods (18 seconds into the first and 32 seconds into the third) and another with 11 seconds left in the first.

2. Jonathan Toews on a roll. The offense did plenty of good things on Friday night, and it’s no surprise that Toews was a big part of it. His two goals – one short-handed, the other the Blackhawks’ first 5-on-5 goal in more than a week – now give him four for the season.

3. Artem Anisimov continues to contribute. While a smattering of fans keep asking when Marko Dano comes back to Chicago, everyone might want to give credit to the center in that trade. Anisimov is what the Blackhawks needed immediately, a capable second-line center that filled the void left this offseason. He’s been just that, scoring his fourth goal on Friday and showing he’s not just the other guy on that second line with Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. Will Andrew Desjardins get supplemental discipline? Desjardins went knee-to-knee with Minnesota forward Justin Fontaine in the second period on Friday night. Fontaine needed help to get to the locker room, and Minnesota writers reported that Fontaine could be out for a few weeks. A source said the league will look at the hit, but any decision on if there is/isn’t supplemental discipline won’t be made until this weekend.

5. Finding their way. The Blackhawks won their first three games without Duncan Keith but they weren’t going to roll without him. They miss Keith on defense. They miss him on the other side, too. But he’s not even getting on the ice for a bit so the Blackhawks will have to find ways to get through a few more weeks without him.

Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning


Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center on Sunday:

1. Blackhawks on wrong side of history 

Earlier this year the Blackhawks made history by appearing in five straight overtime games to start the season, something no team in NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB history has ever done.

But Sunday they found themselves on the wrong side of it after allowing 33 shots on goal in the second period alone. It tied a franchise high for most given up in a single period — March 4, 1941 vs. Boston — and is the most an NHL team has allowed since 1997-98 when shots by period became an official stat.

"It's pretty rare to be seeing that much work in a period," said Cam Ward, who had a season-high 49 saves. "But oh man, I don't even know what to say to be honest. It's tough. We know that we need to be better especially in our home building, too. And play with some pride and passion. Unfortunately, it seemed like it was lacking at times tonight. The old cliche you lose as a team and overall as a team we weren't good enough tonight."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was a tough, tough period in all aspects. I don’t think we touched the puck at all and that was the part that was disturbing, against a good hockey team."

2. Alexandre Fortin is on the board

After thinking he scored his first career NHL goal in Columbus only to realize his shot went off Marcus Kruger's shin-pad, Fortin made up for it one night later and knows there wasn't any question about this one.

The 21-year-old undrafted forward, playing in his his fifth career game, sprung loose for a breakaway early in the first period and received a terrific stretch pass by Jan Rutta from his own goal line to Fortin, who slid it underneath Louis Domingue for his first in the big leagues. It's his second straight game appearing on the scoresheet after recording an assist against the Blue Jackets on Saturday.

"It's fun," Fortin said. "I think it would be a little bit more fun to get your first goal [while getting] two points for your team, but I think we ... just have to [turn the page to the] next chapter and just play and be ready for next game."

3. Brandon Saad's most noticeable game?

There weren't many positives to take away from this game, but Saad was certainly one of them. He had arguably his best game of the season, recording seven shot attempts (three on goal) with two of them hitting the post (one while the Blackhawks were shorthanded).

He was on the ice for 11 shot attempts for and five against at 5-on-5, which was by far the best on his team.

"He started OK and got way better," Quenneville said of Saad. "Had the puck way more, took it to the net a couple of times, shorthanded."

4. Special teams still a work in progress

The Blackhawks entered Sunday with the 29th-ranked power play and 25th-ranked penalty kill, and are still working to get out from the bottom of the league in both departments. In an effort to change up their fortunes with the man advantage, the Blackhawks split up their two units for more balance.

They had four power-play opportunities against Tampa Bay and cashed in on one of them, but it didn't matter as it was too little, too late in the third period — although they did become the first team to score a power-play goal against the Lightning this season (29 chances).

"Whether we're looking for balance or we're just looking for one to get hot, I think our power play has been ordinary so far," Quenneville said before the game. "We need it to be more of a threat."

Four more minor penalties were committed by the Blackhawks, giving them eight in the past two games. That's one way they can shore up the penalty kill, by cutting back on taking them.

Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period


Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period

Well, things could be going better for the Blackhawks during Sunday's game against the Lightning.

In the second period Sunday, the Blackhawks surrendered 33 shots on goal, tying a franchise record for most in a single period. The previous instance occurred March 4, 1941 against the Boston Bruins, a game that the Blackhawks lost 3-2.

While the Blackhawks tied a franchise record for shots on goal allowed, they actually set an NHL record at the same time. The NHL did not begin recording shots on goal as an "official" statistic until the 1997-98 season.

Consequentially, Sunday's 33 shots on goal allowed in the second period is the "official" record, even though the Blackhawks accomplished the "feat" nearly 80 years ago. Confusing, huh? 

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, they also surrendered three goals and scored zero in addition to the plethora of shots on goal allowed. They recorded just six shots on goal in the second period themselves, trailing 4-1 by the time the third period started.