Blackhawks

Five Things from Game 2: Keith gives Blackhawks shot in the arm

Five Things from Game 2: Keith gives Blackhawks shot in the arm

ST. LOUIS – A split: the Blackhawks made it clear after a close Game 1 that they wanted that heading back to Chicago. They achieved it, albeit in the most interesting ways.

But enough of the lead-in. You’re tired and we have to get up early in the morning to get back home. So before we pack it up for the night, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues.

1. A tale of two coach’s challenges. The Blues thought Andrew Shaw interfered with goaltender Brian Elliott on his power-play goal, but officials didn’t see it their way. The goal counted, and the Blackhawks had a critical lead. The Blackhawks also won an offside challenge earlier, taking Vladimir Tarasenko’s would-be goal away. The process isn’t perfect – many, including Quenneville earlier this season, have said they’re not sure what is/isn’t a goal with the goaltender interference challenge. But for this night, at least, the Blackhawks will take the ruling.

2. Duncan Keith’s impact. Everyone knew he’d make one in his first game back from suspension, and he couldn’t have scored his first goal of this postseason at a better time. His goal with 3.2 seconds remaining in the second period gave the Blackhawks life, and their first goal in this postseason. Keith played one tick under 31 minutes, recording four shots a goal and an assist. “He’s a horse back there, so useful in all areas and he’s a threat in a lot of different ways,” Quenneville said. “They scored a big goal for us. That broke the goose egg and we got a big lift off that.”

3. Another great night for the goaltenders. The game may have ended 3-2 but one was an empty-net goal and another was scored with one second remaining in regulation. Both Elliott and Corey Crawford were tremendous again on Friday night, keeping their teams in another closely contested and low-scoring game.

4. Getting the greasy goal. Shaw’s goal was looking like it would be the game winner until Kevin Shattenkirk’s late score gave Artemi Panarin’s empty netter that honor. But Shaw scored the type of goal the Blackhawks are going to need more of in this series: greasy and close on the net. Shaw was there when Keith scored his, too, setting a screen. As Jonathan Toews said of Shaw’s work, “the rest of us can take notes on that. Doesn’t matter who it is, we need guys in front of the net. We had a lot of point shots tonight. Even if they’re going wide, we can get sticks on them, bounces off the end wall. Something’s going to happen when you have guys there.”

5. It’s only going to get better. This series is already pretty intense and that level will grow as the stakes get higher. Listen, whether or not you like the Blues they’re a great foil for the Blackhawks. From hits to great penalty kills to better goaltending, this series has been tremendous through just two games. “Yeah it’s the playoff series already,” Shaw said. “You can feel the intensity and how everyone wants it and how hard everyone’s working. You expect that the rest of the series as well.”

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.

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

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

Quinn Hughes

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 170 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"He's got the puck skills, is a good skater, and is a guy with some high-end offensive talent. He wants to get right in there and play where it's hard and where you get rewarded. When he gets that puck on his stick, he wants to bury it."

NHL player comparable: Torey Krug/Kris Letang

Fit for Blackhawks:

It's no secret the Blackhawks are looking to restock their pipeline with some high-end defensemen. Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell are on the way. But the former isn't a lock to be a full-time NHLer this season and the latter will continue playing in college for the 2018-19 season.

Hughes, who shined at Michigan and the IIHF World Championship with Team USA, would have the best chance of the three to crack the Blackhawks lineup first. The problem is, he likely won't be available at No. 8, so if Hughes is the guy they're locked in on, they'd need to trade up to grab him. 

If they did that, Hughes would give the Blackhawks a third blue line prospect they can get excited about. He's a left-handed shot, which evens out the balance in the system, and he would become a prime candidate to eventually replace Duncan Keith as the team's No. 1 defenseman.