Five Things: Blackhawks' Patrick Kane hits milestone


Five Things: Blackhawks' Patrick Kane hits milestone

The Blackhawks were looking for the same type of game against Detroit here on Sunday as they got in Detroit on Wednesday. And for the first few minutes, they did. And then again for the last few minutes, they did.

So just forget about those middle minutes where the Red Wings outshot them.

The Blackhawks swept their two-game series with the Red Wings, beating them 4-1 on Sunday. The score was deceiving: the Blackhawks got two early goals that chased goaltender Petr Mrazek from the game and two late ones that made it look like a more lopsided victory than it actually was. But the Blackhawks will take the win, no matter how it came.

So before we head home and enjoy an evening – yes, a whole evening – let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over the Red Wings.

1. Corey Crawford does it again. The Blackhawks have relied on Crawford several times this season, and they did it again for a good portion of Sunday afternoon. Crawford was especially good in the second period, when the Red Wings outshot the Blackhawks 13-3. Crawford was recently named to Team Canada for his work. There’s no doubt he’s been a workhorse for the Blackhawks this season.

2. Patrick Kane establishes a new season high. Well, he’s done that every time he’s scored a goal since he surpassed his previous best of 30 established in the 2009-10 season. On Sunday he set another new mark, this for points, with 89. That previous best (88) was also set in 2009-10.

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3. The net-front presence is back. The Blackhawks’ two third-period goals were an Artem Anisimov redirect (for a power play goal) and a shot that went off Jonathan Toews’ body. Both players were planted in front of the net, and when the Blackhawks do that they’re bound for more scoring success. Said Toews, “it’s just kind of under appreciated what that net-front guy means. And going back to what’s kind of made the difference in our power play, I guess you could say lately it’s definitely one of them.”

4. Artemi Panarin grabs a two-point night. Panarin seems to have replaced Patrick Sharp as the left wing who will try to rip one from the left circle. He’s done well there, his third-period snipe from there turning into Anisimov’s redirected power-play goal. In the second matchup of rookies Panarin and Dylan Larkin, Panarin was the one coming away with points again.

5. Staying atop the Central Division. The Blackhawks are doing it, albeit by the razor-thin margin of regulation/overtime victories. If they finish there, they’re thrilled. If they don’t, they’ll live. But there’s no doubt the race to the Central title is going to be a thrilling one between them, the Dallas Stars and the St. Louis Blues.

Blackhawks’ depth could be key as roster becomes clearer

Blackhawks’ depth could be key as roster becomes clearer

Jeremy Colliton has tried to dismiss any notion that forward lines in preseason games or practice groups in training camp give any indication as to what the Blackhawks might look like come October 4 in Prague. But with only two preseason games remaining – one of which could very well be the Rockford IceHogs against the Boston Bruins – it would be quite a shock to see the lines shuffled much before the team heads overseas.

“To me, it’s becoming more clear what our lineup is going to look like,” Colliton said after a 3-2 overtime win over an abbreviated Bruins squad on Saturday. “I think we’re getting what we want out of training camp here.”

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews look like a safe bet to once again start the season on the top line, with Alexander Nylander getting the first look on the left wing. On the second line, the combination of Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat look like they will have Andrew Shaw pestering opponents and opening up some ice for them.

Where the Blackhawks hope to see a major improvement is in the bottom six, where the team struggled to generate offense last season. Stan Bowman’s additions this summer seem to have the Blackhawks in much better position to not have to rely so heavily on their top two lines or top power play unit.

The third line looks fairly set with Brandon Saad on the left wing and Dominik Kubalik on the right wing. David Kampf looks like the favorite to center that line, but the Blackhawks did give Anton Wedin a look there against the Bruins, and he delivered a primary assist on Saad’s goal.

“I think he plays with a lot of energy and he’s a conscientious player. I think he works hard. Both sides of the puck, he’s got a little bit of skill. He’s a strong skater,” Colliton said of Wedin. “I thought he did well, I liked that line. I thought Saad was excellent.”

The fourth line of Drake Caggiula, Ryan Carpenter and Zack Smith earned high praise as well.

“I thought that Carpenter line with Smith and Caggiula was really good, really effective for us,” Kane said. “I think that’s something we might have been missing a little bit last year. Good to see them going, seems like that could be a fun line to watch.”

When the Blackhawks’ season ended this past April, Colliton said he wanted to rely less on Kane and use his star in a more “targeted” way. If the third and fourth lines can generate some scoring, or at the very least some offensive zone time, it could go a long way in getting the Blackhawks into a position to confidently roll four lines.

“We have so much more depth, definitely. There’s no question,” Colliton said. “To have the opportunity to move guys up at times, they should be fresh and ready to make a difference further up the lineup. We have competition, which I think is a good formula for us.”

So, while Colliton may try to play coy on forward lines and defense pairings, Kane has much less to hide.

“That was pretty much our lineup, or close to our lineup, so we’re trying to identify the way we want to play,” Kane said. “Obviously, I think we had some spurts tonight where we did that well and some other times where we struggled a little bit. It’s early in the season, we’re still trying to figure it out.”

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Blackhawks announce second round of roster cuts

USA Today

Blackhawks announce second round of roster cuts

After making a first wave of roster cuts to pare their roster down from 55 to 49, the Blackhawks announced a more significant second round Saturday afternoon.

Per the team, forwards Dylan Sikura, Matthew Highmore, Brandon Hagel, Philipp Kurashev, Mikael Hakkarainen, Alexandre Fortin, Reese Johnson, MacKenzie Entwistle, defensemen Nicolas Beaudin, Joni Tuulola, Lucas Carlsson and goaltender Matt Tomkins have all been assigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

The Blackhawks roster now consists of 33 players: 18 forwards, 11 defensemen and four goaltenders. 

The news comes just hours before the Blackhawks square off with the Bruins in the team's fourth game of the preseason Saturday night.

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