Blackhawks

Five Things: Blackhawks' Patrick Kane hits milestone

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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.

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

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AP

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.