Blackhawks

Five Things from Blackhawks-Coyotes: Forgettable second period

Five Things from Blackhawks-Coyotes: Forgettable second period

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Blackhawks certainly know drama these days.

I joked about grabbing brown paper bags and inhaling deeply after their second period on Thursday night. But considering recent outings it's understandable why some likely watch this team with apprehension.

Still, they got out of the desert with two points, and they needed them. So before we pack up and head to the final stop on Ice Show Trip, Part I, let's look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks' 4-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

1. A very strong start. The 3-0 lead was certainly a bonus but the Blackhawks' all-around game was great in the first period. They shot (15 shots to the Coyotes' six). They swarmed in on turnovers, they created traffic and they didn't let up through the first 20 minutes. But…

2. A terribly undisciplined second period. The Blackhawks committed seven penalties on the night. Five of them came in the second period and three of those were delay-of-game penalties. Oh, and they gave the Coyotes, down 3-0 at the time, a 5-on-3 just 19 seconds into the second period, too. The Blackhawks gave the Coyotes life, and they took advantage of it. Quenneville's frustration with that period was evident in his post-game press conference.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]  

3. Early power play success. The Blackhawks had scored just one-power play goal in their last 20 opportunities entering Thursday night. Against the Coyotes, they did a lot with a little: on their first two power plays, they one shot on each and one goal on each (Kane and Hossa). They went quiet in their final two power plays but their work on it in the first period was encouraging. 

4. Second line gets going again. Kane's goal came on the power play but he, Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov nevertheless woke up when they were together. Panarin scored his 18th of the season in the second period; that goal proved to be the game winner. The Blackhawks can't rely solely on this line like they did last season but they definitely need it to be better than it's been in recent outings.

5. Learn from this. Corey Crawford said it, and he's right: Thursday was a reminder that, if you have a second period like the Blackhawks did it doesn't matter if you're playing the best or worst team in the league. You're playing with fire. The Blackhawks almost kissed away a tremendous first period. They lost momentum early in the second period and struggled to get it back. The full 60-minute game continues to elude them.

Report: Where could the NHL potentially finish the 2019-20 season?

Report: Where could the NHL potentially finish the 2019-20 season?

Sunday night, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported the NHL and NHLPA have begun tossing around ideas for where the league could finish potential regular season or playoff games, if the COVID-19 pause were lifted.

The NHL pause went into effect on March 12 due to concerns with the coronavirus pandemic.

Friedman reported one location discussed was North Dakota. 

"Several sites would be necessary, but Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D., makes sense," he wrote. "Host of the 2005 World Junior Championships, the 2016 World Under-18s and the NCAA’s Fighting Hawks, it is an impressive facility that is definitely more suitable than many other available non-NHL options in the United States."

The NHL and NHLPA are expected to discuss other locations this week per Friedman. 

"The league and players must agree on any return-to-play scenarios," he added. "The players are very concerned about the potential of 35 per cent escrow on future paycheques, and whether or not the NHL will consider allowing that to be paid over multiple years. (CBA discussions are believed to be taking place.)"

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. 

How COVID-19 crisis could impact Blackhawks, NHL's salary cap

How COVID-19 crisis could impact Blackhawks, NHL's salary cap

On March 4, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told general managers that the projected salary cap for the 2020-21 season is expected to be in the range of $84 million and $88.2 million. That's roughly a $2.5 million to $6.7 million increase after it went up only $2 million last season.

But eight days later, the NHL put its season on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it's unclear if or when hockey will even resume at this point. Because of the uncertainty and the risk of the league potentially losing $1 billion in hockey-related revenue, there's legitimate concern about what the ceiling could look like after we get through this, and not just for next season.

Could the NHL's salary cap stay the same? Might it even go down to help ease the escrow pain for players? Anything is possible, but it would require both the NHL and NHLPA to come to an agreement on what that artificial number could look like.

If the salary cap remains flat, the Blackhawks would be one of the many teams that would find themselves in an extremely tough position. And they better start preparing for that scenario.

As of right now, the Blackhawks' projected cap hit for next season is $74.1 million, according to Cap Friendly. That number factors in the three players on long-term injured reserve (Calvin de Haan, Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw) but also includes the current players on the roster, which comes out to 26 total, so cuts obviously must be made to get down to the maximum of 23.

But what that number doesn't include is the potential performance bonus overages and the fact the Blackhawks don't have a goaltender signed beyond this season other than Collin Delia, which doesn't leave much room for free agent signings elsewhere. Heck, taking care of their own guys is going to be a major challenge.

The Blackhawks have nine pending restricted free agents, which most notably includes Drake Caggiula, Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome. Corey Crawford is their highest-profile unrestricted free agent. Those are four key pieces the Blackhawks must try to squeeze in under the cap if the priority is to bring all of them back, and — loosely projecting — gives them around $9-10 million to do so.

You have to wonder if it makes more sense for everyone involved to agree on one-year deals and revisit things the following year after more clarity is provided on the NHL's financial situation, especially with Seattle preparing for league entry and the U.S. television deal set to expire after the 2021-22 season.

For now, the Blackhawks and the rest of the NHL are waiting to see what the next steps are. But the financial ramifications will be significant, and it's something every team must now navigate through. 

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.