Blackhawks

Five Things: Corey Crawford stays hot in Blackhawks win

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Five Things: Corey Crawford stays hot in Blackhawks win

PITTSBURGH – Hey, you weren’t expecting the Blackhawks-Pittsburgh Penguins game to end in ho-hum fashion, were you?

This is Pittsburgh, where Blackhawks’ potential regulation victories always go to die. But a little 3-on-3 never hurt anyone, and it certainly didn’t hurt the Blackhawks in their 3-2 victory over the Penguins on Tuesday night. And just in case you didn’t get enough excitement on Tuesday, these two are right back at it again on Wednesday.

But before we get to part 2 of the home-and-home, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory on Tuesday.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

1. Spurned in regulation again. The Blackhawks’ last regulation victory in Pittsburgh came on Feb. 22, 1997 at the old Civic Arena. Well, we can’t blame the building because the Blackhawks can’t win in regulation in the new CONSOL Energy Center, either. We’ve grown accustomed to the Blackhawks, when staked to a lead after 40 minutes, to automatically winning in regulation. But all usual events get thrown out in Pittsburgh.

2. 3-on-3 is fun. OK, we admit it: we’re hooked. There’s obviously a gimmicky side to this new overtime format but anything that helps us avoid shootouts is welcome. And if you like being entertained to any degree, you loved the three-plus minute overtime between the Penguins and Blackhawks on Tuesday. Two great teams full of talented and skilled players, and all on display in those few minutes. As coach Joel Quenneville said, this overtime format “is great for the sport.”

3. Artemi Panarin is stealth. Quenneville said the young Russian was “ordinary” most of Tuesday’s game. But he gave full marks to Panarin’s two goals and to his game through the first half of this season. Panarin is still rounding into form in some areas of his game but when he does get a chance at a shot, there’s little hesitation and plenty of confidence. Said Duncan Keith, “he’s got a great shot. I think he showed that tonight. He’s been a big addition to our team.”

[MORE: WATCH: Artemi Panarin scores game-winning OT goal in Blackhawks win

4. Go with Corey Crawford again on Wednesday? It’s a question Quenneville will have to seriously ponder as Crawford stopped 34 of 36 shots, including five in overtime, in Tuesday’s victory. Crawford has been great. Scott Darling has struggled, but the Blackhawks need to get their backup goaltender going, get him confident again. So who to start?

5. Sidney Crosby is still Sidney Crosby. The Penguins star was questioned earlier this season, when he was struggling offensively. Well, he’s not struggling anymore. Crosby had a goal and an assist on Tuesday, giving him six goals and six assists in his last eight games. Even Crawford had to give Crosby credit on his third-period snipe. “It’s a good shot,” he said. “I didn’t really pick it up that great, but it was a pretty quick release and a quick shot. I guess you just have to forget about that one. Guys are going to make nice shots some times.” Especially that guy.

NHL Draft Profile: D Evan Bouchard

NHL Draft Profile: D Evan Bouchard

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Evan Bouchard

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 193 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"A highly intelligent defenseman with exceptional vision and offensive instincts. He reads the play very well and his passing ability allows him to be a constant threat in his team's transition game. He's one of the top offensive-defenseman in the Canadian Hockey League and magician-like when quarterbacking the power play."

NHL player comparable: John Carlson/Alex Pietrangelo

Fit for Blackhawks:

At 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, Bouchard is one of the most NHL-ready defensemen in this year's draft and that could be appetizing for a team like the Blackhawks, who are looking for immediate help on the blue line. But Bouchard is a right-handed shot, and drafting him would add a third high-end right-handed shot defenseman to the organization, along with prospects Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell.

You can never have enough of them, but there's only room for three before somebody would have to play on their off hand and that would mean the third would be playing on the bottom pairing. All three of these players have Top 4 potential.

Still, that may not even come into play here. The Blackhawks will seek to take the best available player, like they always have. And if they feel it's Bouchard, they'll do it.

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Brady Tkachuk

Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 196 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"I know Tkachuk isn't a center, but Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) is another player who comes to mind with his combination of size, strength, skill and nastiness. Tkachuk has impressive hand skills and his upside has only begun because I think there's lots of maturity and growth to come. I've seen his speed and skating improve each of the past three years and I think he'll still get stronger and his balance will get better. His man strength will come and it'll be like, 'Oh boy, look out.'"

NHL player comparable: Matthew Tkachuk/Wayne Simmonds

Fit for Blackhawks:

If you're looking for a player that checks all the boxes in this year's draft, it's Tkachuk. And man could the Blackhawks use a player like him.

He's got offensive skill, willingly goes to the greasy areas, can provide net-front presence while playing a top-six role, and perhaps the most important part for the Blackhawks: he's very close to NHL ready. The Blackhawks will be patient with whoever they draft, but there's also some urgency to turn things around in 2018-19.

If they can draft a player like Tkachuk who can potentially jump into the lineup as early as this upcoming season, that would be ideal. Because he's the type of player that can make an impact, not just get by.