Five Things from Blackhawks-Flames: Special teams perfect

Five Things from Blackhawks-Flames: Special teams perfect

CALGARY, Alberta – The Blackhawks weren’t too happy with their game in Winnipeg on Tuesday, and for good reason. They looked flat and uninspired in what ended up being a lopsided loss (at least on the scoreboard).

Friday was a reminder of what the Blackhawks have to do on the road: play smart hockey, be patient and make sure special teams work in your favor. All that happened, and the Blackhawks came out of Calgary with a 3-2 victory. Oh, there were a few other factors, too. We’ll look at some of those now in our Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over the Flames.

1. Getting better with age. Remember back in the winter of 2013 when the Calgary Flames looked like they were headed to victory, despite Ray Emery’s tremendous game? Marian Hossa kept that from happening, thanks to his game-tying goal with mere seconds left on the clock. On Friday Hossa came through with the big goal again, this time the winner. It’s been a great season for Hossa, and he once again came through on a night the Blackhawks needed someone to step up late.

2. Ryan Hartman responds. Hartman was a healthy scratch last game – we’re figuring due to numbers, not performance. But he nevertheless put an exclamation point when he returned on Friday, scoring on a breakaway for his third goal of the season. By the midway point of the second period Hartman, who was active and noticeable throughout, was on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

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3. A strong kill. The Blackhawks’ penalty-kill issues continue to fade in the distance, as they went 5-for-5 against the Flames on Friday night. They got away from the discipline that has been more evident in recent games – they took just three penalties in their previous three games prior to this one – but they nevertheless denied the Flames. Including tonight’s game, the Blackhawks have now killed off 25 of their last 27 penalties. Oh, and not to be outdone…

4. A nice (albeit brief night) for the power play. One advantage, one goal. It’s not a bad percentage, really. I wrote Thursday on how the Blackhawks’ power play hadn’t been doing well lately (2-for-23 entering Friday’s game). Well, they made a big impact on the one power play they had on Friday night with a patented Brent Seabrook howitzer. It came in the second period, when the Blackhawks weren’t doing so well, and tied the game. “I mean he really steps into it and that one was another hard one there,” Corey Crawford said of Seabrook’s shot. “Key point in the game, too. We needed a big goal at that point and he got it for us.”

5. Going on without Gaudreau. Give the Flames credit: Johnny Gaudreau is out 4-6 weeks and they could’ve faltered. But they played a solid game against the Blackhawks and that top line of Sam Bennett, Sean Monahan and Troy Brouwer (you remember him) was potent. Each finished with two points. The Flames are missing a couple of guys, including Gaudreau. But Calgary isn’t going to use that as an excuse.

Brendan Perlini still trying to find role with Blackhawks


Brendan Perlini still trying to find role with Blackhawks

Brendan Perlini's start with the Blackhawks hasn't been ideal. He has zero points and is a minus-6 rating through six games since being acquired — along with Dylan Strome — from the Arizona Coyotes for Nick Schmaltz on Nov. 25. 

In his most recent game, Perlini logged only five shifts and was benched for the final 28:28 in a 4-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday. Two days later he found himself a healthy scratch. It's been a little more than two weeks now, but Perlini is still trying to find his role in Chicago.

"You always want to be playing, but I always take the positive in everything and try to improve no matter what the situation is," Perlini said. "It's always tough, you come into a new situation, new things going on, you don't know too many people. ... There's a lot of things going on. I just have to stay focused on what I can do to help the team improve each day."

Is he feeling some pressure to live up to the trade and trying to do too much early on?

‘‘Nah, not really,’’ Perlini said. ‘‘I’m an easygoing guy. I just like to come and play hockey, and that’s it. I don’t think crazy things and blah, blah, blah. I just like to have fun, do my thing, work hard, improve. Hopefully the rest falls into place.’’

The Blackhawks aren't asking too much out of him. He's not going to produce big numbers offensively because that's not the kind of player he is. At 6-foot-3, 211 pounds, Perlini is more of a power forward and the Blackhawks want him to be harder to play against so that he can turn into a consistent top-9 forward.

"We just want him to have a little more urgency without the puck," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "Skate, work, work away from the puck, and I think he'll put himself in good situations."

Perhaps it's a little more difficult to establish your role when the team is on a seven-game losing streak because there's lots of mixing and matching going on as they search for the right formula to break out of it. Perlini (and Strome) has yet to be a part of a win with the Blackhawks, which probably isn't helping as they get acclimated to their new locker room.

But it's also an opportunity to take control and make an impact when things aren't going your way, both individually and as a team, and learn from some of the veterans who have three Stanley Cups on their resume.

"I'm just trying to improve with different things every day and learn off the guys," Perlini said. "Obviously, some unbelievable players. The team is going through a skid, but you take a look around the room — [Jonathan] Toews, [Patrick] Kane, all the guys who have won things and done tremendous things in the game — those are the guys you want to be around and learn from and improve from. For me, regardless of what the situation is, I’m always going to try to improve and better myself.’’

Artem Anisimov (concussion) added to injury report, will not travel to Winnipeg


Artem Anisimov (concussion) added to injury report, will not travel to Winnipeg

The Blackhawks announced Monday that Artem Anisimov will not travel to Winnipeg for Tuesday's game against the Jets because he is in concussion protocol.

He suffered the injury on his very first shift of the third period on Sunday against the Montreal Canadiens when Shea Weber laid a heavy hit on the Blackhawks center along the boards. Anisimov did not appear to be in immediate discomfort, but he left the ice and did not return.

The injury comes at a time where Anisimov was starting to play some good hockey. He has six points (four goals, two assists) in his past 10 games after having only one point in his previous eight contests. He's also averaging four shots on goal per game over his last five contests.

"He's been playing really well lately, so it's unfortunate both for him and the team," coach Jeremy Colliton said after practice on Monday. "But carry on."

As of now, the Blackhawks do not have any plans to make a call up. Brendan Perlini, who was a healthy scratch on Monday for the first time since being traded to the Blackhawks, is expected to draw back into the lineup in Anisimov's absence.