Jonathan Toews injured as Blackhawks fall to Sharks

Jonathan Toews injured as Blackhawks fall to Sharks

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Blackhawks’ penalty kill was critical in the second period, nullifying a San Jose 5-on-3 to keep them within striking distance.

But between early special-teams woes and the loss of Jonathan Toews, the Blackhawks didn’t have enough late to muster another comeback.

Toews suffered an upper-body injury and did not return and the Blackhawks couldn’t get past an early deficit in a 2-1 loss to the Sharks on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks gave up a power-play goal (Logan Couture) and a short-handed goal (Joel Ward), the latter proving to be the game winner, in the first period. Artemi Panarin scored his eight goal of the season. Corey Crawford stopped 33 of 35 in the loss.

Toews left the game with about 11 minutes remaining. While it originally appeared to be a lower-body issue – Toews went down awkwardly near the boards midway through the second period – coach Joel Quenneville said Toews was out with an upper-body injury.

“We’ll know more tomorrow but we’re hopeful he’s OK. Nothing long-term or serious,” Quenneville said of Toews. Asked if Toews could finish off this trip, Quenneville said, “yeah, we’ll see.”

The Blackhawks were playing a solid game when they went on their first kill. It didn’t end well, with Couture rocketing one past Crawford for a 1-0 lead. On the short-handed goal Brent Seabrook dove to try and keep the puck in at the blue line. But Ward caught it and Crawford, who never got back in good position, was beaten.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“Yeah one of those where you think, ‘OK, it’ll be stopping outside the blue line.’ Next thing you know it carries all the way in,” Quenneville said. “It’s a feel thing and I think [Crawford] has pretty good judgment on everything.”

Crawford was good the rest of the way but the Blackhawks, despite getting good scoring opportunities, couldn’t get anything outside of Panarin’s goal past Martin Jones.

“We’ve had chances. We just need to bury a couple,” Artem Anisimov said. “Sometimes it’s a simple play like going to the net, get a rebound goal or something like that. It’s just not clicking yet but we’re trying. We have the shots. We just need the final touch.”

Seabrook agreed.

“I thought we had some chances and third period. I thought we were good creating some stuff. Just couldn’t put it in the net,” Seabrook said. “Jones made some big saves.

The Blackhawks have been missing the final touch a lot lately. They’ve been shut out twice on this trip already. They just about were shut out for a third time. Yes, they had better opportunities in this game. They believe they’re heading back in the right direction. Whether or not they’re finishing this trip on a positive, and with their captain, remains to be seen.

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.

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

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

Oliver Wahlstrom

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 205 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"Wahlstrom already has an NHL-caliber shot with a quick release and the ability to create space for himself and linemates. He's most known for his goal-scoring ability and elite shot, and can hit a one-timer as good or better than many professional players."

NHL player comparable: Phil Kessel

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks would probably prefer to take a defenseman at No. 8, but because four of them might go inside the Top 7, the best available player on the board is likely to be a forward. And there's a decent chance that could be Wahlstrom.

Wahlstrom would immediately become Chicago's top prospect, and a player that has the potential to slide into the top six when he reaches the NHL — whenever that may be.

He's committed to college for the 2018-19 season, so it's doubtful he would join the team until at least 2019-20, but Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley said in our draft preview edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast that it wouldn't deter them from picking him. 

And it shouldn't, because you don't want to waste a player of his caliber's entry-level years developing in the minors if he's not ready yet.

"I think the way we would evaluate it is, we project them, we try to get a timeline on when we think they might be NHL ready," Kelley said. "But we're also looking for where they are in their development curve and want their ceiling is. I think in some players, you have to be a little bit more patient for them to reach their ceiling. That doesn't necessarily mean that players can't exceed their development curve, I think we saw that with Alex DeBrincat last year."