Blackhawks

Hawks escape Detroit with a point

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Hawks escape Detroit with a point

Some days youre just grateful you get a point and get out of town. The Blackhawks were probably feeling that a little on Saturday afternoon.

Jonathan Toews tied the game with less than a minute remaining in regulation, but Todd Bertuzzi scored his second of the game in overtime as the Detroit Red Wings beat the Blackhawks 3-2 at Joe Louis Arena.

The Blackhawks remained atop the Central Division one point ahead of Detroit and second in the Western Conference. It was the fourth consecutive game the Blackhawks mustered at least a point.

That the Blackhawks even got to overtime was impressive, considering their forgettable start. The Wings, who won their 14th consecutive game at home, came out buzzing. Detroit had 10 shots on goal before the Blackhawks had one Michael Frolik ended the drought about seven and a half minutes in and outshot them 21-4 for the period for a 2-0 lead.

Terrible start to the game, coach Joel Quenneville said. (There was) too much standing around watching them. Nobody had any movement. Well definitely take a point and move along.

If not for the work of Corey Crawford, who stopped 40 of 43 for the game, it couldve been worse.

Its tough to say why (we started bad), said Marian Hossa, who assisted on Toews game-tying goal. It seems like they controlled the game at the beginning. They were skating, we were standing. The good thing is, we get one point.

The Blackhawks finally woke up later in the second, when a goofy puck bounce off the back boards led to Andrew Shaws third goal of the season. They took that momentum into the third period, where they outshot the Red Wings 11-0 in the first six-plus minutes. But when Drew Miller went for a double-minor high-stick, the Blackhawks seemed to lose momentum instead of capitalize on the ensuing power plays.

They got it back when Toews deflected Hossas shot with 52 seconds remaining in regulation. But the Blackhawks overtime looked much like their first period, as the Wings outshot them 9-0 with Bertuzzi winning it.

It (Valtteri Filppulas shot) went up in the air and I just lost it for a second. I think (Bertuzzi) one-timed it as soon as it hit the ice and it just squeaked through, Crawford said. It was just another tough, tough game against them. But we were able to battle back and bring it into overtime.

Yes, that start left a lot to be desired. The end nearly made up for it. Sometimes, you just take the point and get out of town.

Were not going to beat ourselves up about it, Toews said. When you work your way back, you feel that extra point is yours. It is a little disappointing. We have to learn from it and be better next time we play these guys.

Recapping breakout OHL season for Blackhawks top prospect Adam Boqvist

Recapping breakout OHL season for Blackhawks top prospect Adam Boqvist

The London Knights set high expectations for themselves going into the 2018-19 OHL campaign. They always do. Their roster is usually loaded with top NHL prospects and this season was no different.

After finishing No. 1 in the Western Conference with 99 points, the Knights looked poised to go on a deep run. They got off to a roaring start in the playoffs by sweeping the Windsor Spitfires (4-0) and kicked off the second round by winning three straight against the Guelph Storm. But then, for the first time all season, the Knights lost four in a row to squander a 3-0 series lead and were eliminated just like that. It was a disappointing finish for a team with Memorial Cup aspirations.

One of the bright spots of the postseason was Blackhawks prospect Adam Boqvist. He was tied for first among all skaters with 10 goals through two rounds; no other defenseman had more than six. And he finished with 13 points in 11 games for a points-per-game average of 1.18.

To summarize his season: Boqvist scored one goal in his first 15 games. From that point on, he finished with 29 goals and 60 points in 50 games, including playoffs. He became an offensive driving force.

It's unclear what his future holds, but with Evan Bouchard expected to turn pro and secure a full-time roster spot on the Edmonton Oilers next season, returning to London would put Boqvist in a position where he could be the No. 1 defenseman in all situations.

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Blackhawks 2018-19 season grades: Front office

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AP

Blackhawks 2018-19 season grades: Front office

If we're evaluating Stan Bowman's moves as a whole, we have to go back to July 1 when the 2018-19 season really started.

On that day, the Blackhawks announced three signings: Chris Kunitz (one year, $1 million), Brandon Manning (two years, $2.25 million cap hit) and Cam Ward (one year, $3 million). Not exactly splashy additions after missing the playoffs for the first time in 10 years — although, to be fair, it wasn't a great market to throw money around.

Eleven days later, the Blackhawks traded Marian Hossa and his $5.275 million cap hit to the Arizona Coyotes in a seven-player deal that included top-nine winger Vinnie Hinostroza. Bowman acknowledged after the trade that he tried exploring every possible avenue before surrendering that the financial flexibility became more valuable.

But the trade might've put the team in a better position going into free agency had it been executed before July 1. Because of all that, Bowman's grade isn't looking great so far.

Then we get into the actual regular season.

The biggest move Bowman made was the coaching change on Nov. 6 in going from future Hall of Famer Joel Quenneville to Jeremy Colliton, which was a controversial decision in and of itself, especially the timing of it.

“There’s no perfect way to do things," Bowman admitted. "I think we made the best of it at the time. It’s one of those things where you’ve just gotta get through it. I think he’s gonna benefit from not only having a training camp next year but also we had this whole long stretch of a season. ... We’ve got a lot more things we want to get to, and I think we did a good job of — it’s a good start, but I’m sure Jeremy will tell you that we want to be way better next year and we’re gonna push our players to be better. We’re gonna try to do things differently. It’s not just taking this exact same program and we’ll start that. We want to do different things as well and enhance our team. I think there’s reason for hope there.”

Where did Bowman start to earn high marks? The roster tinkering, beginning in late November.

Perhaps recognizing that Nick Schmaltz wasn't progressing the way the team would have liked in a contract season, Bowman dealt him for a potential future second-line center in Dylan Strome and replenished the top-nine forward they lost in Hinostroza with Brendan Perlini, who showed flashes down the stretch. That's turned out to be a win-win for both sides.

The trade that was very clearly one-sided is the one Bowman pulled off with Peter Chiarelli, who was later relieved of his GM duties with the Edmonton Oilers.

Not only did Bowman acquire rugged winger Drake Caggiula, who became such a valuable part of the Blackhawks' second-half turnaround because he was a perfect complement for Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on the top line, but he unloaded the contract of Manning without having to retain salary or giving up an important piece of the roster. It essentially gave the Blackhawks an extra $2.25 million to work with this summer, which shouldn't go unnoticed when you look at how deep the 2019 free agent class is.

Bowman essentially undid the mistake he made and put the Blackhawks in an even better position going into this offseason by adding a useful player on top of it. So he certainly upped his overall grade.

Now it's time to spend the money he cleared in getting rid of the contracts of Hossa and Manning, and continue building around the current core.

"We're not going to bring the same group back," Bowman said. "That's clear. We don't do that really any year. There's changes to every team, even a team that ends up winning the Cup this year will have some different players. We're going to have some new players next year. What we're going to do is try to improve in the areas where our team needs some help and the way that looks isn't completely clear right now, but we have time over the next couple months to dive in and look at our team in greater detail and figure out how we're going to make that happen.

"There's obviously free agent signings, there's trades, there's growth from within. Those are the ways that your team improves from year to year and we're going to do that. So we're going to have some new players here next year for sure but we have a lot of players that are going to be back and I think a lot of the key guys who had good seasons they're coming back for sure, so we don't need across the board changes but we do need some new players."

Front office: B-

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