Blackhawks

Five Things: Brent Seabrook has big night in Blackhawks' win

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Five Things: Brent Seabrook has big night in Blackhawks' win

DETROIT – The Blackhawks will watch the standings plenty over these final few weeks of the regular season. But as coach Joel Quenneville pointed out on Wednesday morning, the Blackhawks’ priority was focusing on their business.

And on Wednesday night, there was no doubt they were honed in against the Detroit Red Wings. For the second consecutive game the Blackhawks played good, strong hockey. They’re clicking at the right time, and they could be getting Marian Hossa (lower body) back within the week.

But before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 5-2 victory over the Red Wings.

1. Corey Crawford’s all-around great day. About two hours before Crawford faced the Red Wings he was named to Team Canada for this fall’s World Cup of Hockey. Then he went out and had another stellar evening, stopping 31 of 33 shots. Crawford collected his career-high 34th victory, topping the mark he set back in 2010-11. Coach Joel Quenneville said he looks forward to seeing Crawford on Team Canada this fall, and that Crawford was “very instrumental with us winning [tonight] with that second-period performance.”

2. A pretty good debut. Christian Ehrhoff got into his first game with the Blackhawks and he had a nice outing. Ehrhoff, who teamed with Trevor van Riemsdyk, just missed on a scoring chance in the first period but brought a solid, all-around game for the Blackhawks. The veteran played just over 17 minutes and tied Jonathan Toews with a game-high four shots on goal. Ehrhoff was hoping he would fit in with his new team. Wednesday’s game was a good start.

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3. Power play capitalizes. The Blackhawks didn’t get their first power plays until late in the second period but they didn’t mess around once they got them. Artemi Panarin scored a 5-on-3 goal off a perfect pass from Patrick Kane, then Kane followed up one minute, 26 seconds later, off a Brent Seabrook keep, to extend the Blackhawks’ lead to 3-0.

4. Brent Seabrook’s big night. When the defenseman is good, he is very good. And he had a very productive game on Wednesday night, finishing with a goal and two assists – he was originally credited with a third assist, but that was later taken away. Seabrook doesn’t get the attention of Duncan Keith but he’s had a great season, and that continued on Wednesday.

5. Oh, and the same goes for Artemi Panarin. Two of the league’s top rookies (Dylan Larkin of Detroit) were featured in this one, with Panarin having the very productive night. He scored twice, both off Patrick Kane feeds, in another outstanding outing for the Russian forward. Panarin now has 24 goals this season. Quenneville said, “I think everyone likes the kid and he’s only growing in what he brings to our team.”

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.