Five Things: Blackhawks have defensive kinks to fix


Five Things: Blackhawks have defensive kinks to fix

Yep, it’s back. And as Andrew Shaw asked two springs ago when he came back from injury, “miss me?”

We’re talking Five Things, our regular staple after every regular-season game. We’ll skip over the normal lead-in with this story — there was plenty of pomp and circumstance during the banner-raising ceremony. So here they are, Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 season-opening loss to the New York Rangers.

1. The kid is all right. The kid we’re referring to is the forward the Blackhawks have dubbed “Bread Man.” Artemi Panarin looked good in his one preseason game and he looked good again on Wednesday night, when he scored his first career NHL goal. Coach Joel Quenneville talked of Panarin’s skill and puck-handling ability and once again liked the combination of the young Russian, Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov. The Blackhawks might be onto something there, and Panarin is definitely off to a great start.

[MORE: Blackhawks banner raising night spoiled by Rangers]

2. Defensive kinks. Yeah, they were a problem in the early going. Quenneville called Trevor van Riemsdyk, Trevor Daley — who were a pair — and David Rundblad “just OK.” That’s not high praise in Q-speak. But it sounds like help is on the way. Quenneville said Viktor Svedberg, who was reassigned to Rockford for cap purposes on Tuesday, will “likely” return for the weekend. It also sounds like the big Swede will be in the lineup this weekend. Once that happens, Quenneville said he’ll have, “a clearer indication of who’s going to play with who.”

3. Marian Hossa is still a marvel. There was a sequence in Wednesday’s game when Hossa was playing keep-away for seemingly an entire shift. It’s what he does best. OK, scoring goals is what he does best but his strength in holding the puck is a close second. Some day Hossa will show his age. He isn’t right now.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. Ceremonies don’t translate into sparks. The Blackhawks have now lost two of the last three games that began with their banner-raising ceremony. So let’s just say they don’t get off to the best starts on these otherwise celebratory nights. Maybe it’s the emotions of the evening, but the Blackhawks did not have the necessary jump and attention to detail to start this one tonight.

5. Go Cubs. Those were Quenneville’s parting words at the end of his postgame press conference, and it’ll be the end of our story, too. Hey, you end on a positive, right?

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut


Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Corey Crawford’s season debut after missing nearly 10 months with a concussion.

Mayers talks about the Kitty system that Niklas Hjalmarsson and Vinnie Hinostroza probably dealt with in their returns to Chicago.

The guys also discuss what’s next for Crawford, the upcoming matchup against Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Blackhawks’ biggest areas for improvement.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!

Four takeaways: Blackhawks suffer first regulation loss, but Corey Crawford looks sharp in season debut

Four takeaways: Blackhawks suffer first regulation loss, but Corey Crawford looks sharp in season debut

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center on Thursday:

1. Return of the Crow

The Blackhawks got their man back between the pipes after a 10-month layoff due to a concussion. And he looked like same old "Crow."

Crawford stopped 27 of 30 shots for a save percentage of .900. He faced 12 shots and eight scoring chances in the first period, but nothing too out of the ordinary. The biggest save he made was on a Michael Grabner breakaway in the third period, bailing out a turnover in the neutral zone.

"I think I felt better in the second and third," Crawford said. "But they really didn’t get that many opportunities early. It was nice. I think they flipped one in for the first one, so that was kind of good just to get in it and feel one early. We were close in that one all game and we created a lot. I thought [Antti] Raanta played really well.

"It was a tough, tough break at the end. Still felt I should have stopped that one. We were right there, we were creating a lot and gotta try to come up with that one. Just gotta forget about it and worry about the next game."

2. Alex DeBrincat, Jonathan Toews extend point streaks

The hot start continues for the Blackhawks' two leading scorers, both of whom assisted on Erik Gustafsson's goal in the second period to stretch their point streaks to six games. DeBrincat and Toews each have 10 points this season.

3. Overtime streak ends

The Blackhawks made history by forcing five straight overtime games to start the season, something no team has ever done in the four major sports (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB). But they didn't have the comeback magic in them this time.

Entering Thursday, the Blackhawks were 1-0-1 when trailing after two periods. They were 5-28-2 last season for a win percentage of .143.

4. Familiar faces, new places

Five former Blackhawks took the ice for the Coyotes: Vinnie Hinostroza, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jordan Oesterle, Richard Panik and Antti Raanta.

It was Hjalmarsson's first trip back to Chicago since being traded in the 2017 offseason. He received a nice video tribute during the second TV timeout of the first period, which made him very emotional.

"I almost got emotional too seeing his reaction," Toews said. "He's one of those guys you'll never forget what he meant to this locker room. He was a quiet guy in the room but we all know how he played and put everyone else before himself. Pretty cool reaction from the fans too. I think we were all sad to see him leave this locker room, he did a lot of special things and was a massive part of our championship wins. Happy for him to get that reception. It's well-deserved and obviously we miss having him around."

As far as the game, Hjalmarsson logged a team-high 22:18 of ice time and blocked three shots. Oesterle registered a secondary assist on Arizona's first goal, which was its first 5-on-5 of the season.

Hinostroza, who was also part of the Marian Hossa trade over the summer, scored twice in his return to his hometown, beating Crawford with a wrist shot to make it 2-1 in the second period and an empty-netter in the third; his second goal turned out to be the game winner, the fourth of his career and first as a member of the Coyotes.

Panik recorded four shot attempts (three on goal). And Raanta improved to 16-0-3 in his career at the United Center, a remarkable record for any goaltender in any situation.