Five Things: Blackhawks' Patrick Kane hits another career high


Five Things: Blackhawks' Patrick Kane hits another career high

CALGARY, Alberta – The Blackhawks will leave Alberta with three out of a possible four points.

That’s good, considering they didn’t play very good hockey against either Edmonton or Calgary, which bested them in overtime on Friday night. Perhaps it’s more road growing pains or just a so-so start, performance-wise, to the Circus Trip. Whatever the reason, the Blackhawks don’t want to be stuck in neutral for too long; it just gets tougher from here on out.

So before we head west, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 2-1 overtime loss to the Flames.

[MORE: Blackhawks gain a point but fall to Flames in overtime]

1. Patrick Kane hits another career high. Kane’s secondary assist on Artem Anisimov’s goal gives him a 15-game point streak. Through all the ups and downs of this early season, Kane’s been a constant. Yes, he always starts seasons off well but this points pace is pretty impressive: through his first 20 games, Kane has 13 goals and 18 assists.

2. Scott Darling almost steals one. Darling looked like he was doing his best Ray Emery impersonation on Friday night. While the Blackhawks sputtered through the third period and overtime Darling stayed strong, denying the Flames on one great scoring opportunity after another. But the Blackhawks turnovers proved too much, and Johnny Gaudreau is pretty good at capitalizing when he gets a chance. Still, Darling’s the reason the Blackhawks got anything out of this one.

3. Coaching challenges fail. Coach Joel Quenneville thought there was goaltender interference on Sean Monahan’s first-period goal. Flames coach Bob Hartley thought the same of Anisimov’s goal. Well, they both lost their challenges. Hey, at least they got them out of the way early.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. Gaudreau is good at hockey. Yes, a real newsflash from us here, isn’t it? Gaudreau picked Brent Seabrook’s pocket in overtime and scored his fifth of the season for the Flames’ victory. He also had an assist on Monahan’s goal. Gaudreau was told to emulate Kane in college, and Kane called Gaudreau “one of my favorite players to watch.” It’s high praise, and in watching Gaudreau, you can see why he garners it.

5. Need to be better. The Blackhawks still aren’t playing the great road game that’s going to be necessary this season. They need to look back to their game in St. Louis, where they had the necessary urgency and performance. Sure, the Blues bring that out in the Blackhawks. But the need for points should light a fire under them now, because it’s a very real need.

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch


Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

Brandon Saad played a majority of last season on the first line, started this season on the second to change things up, got demoted to the fourth by the fifth game, and could find himself out of the lineup in the sixth.

Before the Blackhawks hit the ice for practice on Monday, the 25-year-old winger found a white jersey hanging in his stall. That's usually reserved for players who are injured — Andreas Martinsen (back) was the only other player wearing one — or players who are on the outside looking in, which appears to be Saad right now considering he was not part of the four-line rotation.

"I don't think anyone wants to be wearing white around here," he said. "But it is what it is and there's nothing you can do but keep trying to improve. It's their job to make the call to put the best team out there to win hockey games."

Known for being even-keeled through the ups and downs, Saad expressed disappointment about the possibility of being a healthy scratch on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He didn't exactly show that emotion following his demotion to the fourth line, perhaps out of respect to the players he was playing with by noting how it brings balance.

But he did on Monday, and it was the first time we've really seen some sort of emotion out of him.

"Everyone makes mistakes and things aren't always going to go your way but to be out of the lineup, a little surprised today," Saad said. "But it is what it is. ... No one wants to be out of the lineup. That's never fun regardless of who you are."

When asked to pinpoint what's gone wrong, Saad said he wasn't the right person to ask.

"I think you got to ask him that," he said, referring to Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff. "It's his calls. For me, you can talk pros and cons as much as you want but just trying to go out there and compete and win hockey games. We've won a few here, I know every game has gone to overtime so they've been close. Nothing was said to me about lineup change or anything like that. You just come in and you see your jersey and you go out there and you play."

So Quenneville was asked.

"Just expect more," he said. "That's the situation."

Is his mindset in the right place?

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said. "His mindset is what it is. Whether it's urgency or passion, coming up with loose pucks in those areas is going to be the difference."

The Blackhawks sending a message shouldn't only be directed at Saad. It also serves as a reminder to his teammates and is important to note for the younger guys about earning your ice time.

"I don't really know where the coaches are coming from so I'm not going to comment on that," Jonathan Toews said respectfully. "But [Saad] has been doing some good things and I think it's good for all of us to know what's going on there because if [Saad] can get his ice time taken away, then so can a lot of guys, myself included. So we all want to play well and have team success."

The Blackhawks need Saad to return to form quickly because he's crucial to their overall success. There's no debate about that. It's why the thought of Saad, who played in all 82 games last season, serving as the 13th forward is frustrating for everyone involved.

It hasn't been a problem in the past, but now it's becoming one because of the Blackhawks' aspirations of getting back to the playoffs and their dependence on their top players.

"I don’t think it’s an issue," Quenneville said. "We just expect more out of him."

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

The Blackhawks made sports history on Saturday after they appeared in their fifth straight overtime game to start the season.

No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL, showing just how crazy this early season run has been for the Blackhawks, who have rallied from all five games and have come away with wins in three of them.

"We’ve had five games, every one of them have been extremely intense and the game’s been on the line from start to finish," coach Joel Quenneville said following a 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues. "Our group’s been competitive this year, the guys have been working hard for one another. I don’t know how many games we’ve been down in the third period, and coming back to win is special."

The Blackhawks appeared in 17 overtime/shootout games last season and won seven of them. They are one of six teams this season that have yet to pick up a regulation win.

On a separate note, Saturday marked the eighth time in Blackhawks history that one player scored a tying goal in the third period and scored in overtime (Alex DeBrincat), according to the NHL's PR department. It's the second time it's happened this year for the Blackhawks, with Jonathan Toews the other on Oct. 6 against St. Louis.