Kane, Seabrook have three-point nights in Blackhawks win over Panthers


Kane, Seabrook have three-point nights in Blackhawks win over Panthers

The Blackhawks entered Thursday night’s game knowing that, in the wake of Duncan Keith’s absence, they’d need a little bit more from everyone.

They got it.

Brent Seabrook and Patrick Kane each had a power-play goal and two assists and Trevor van Riemsdyk played a career-high 22-plus minutes as the Blackhawks beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 at the United Center.

Artem Anisimov scored his third goal of the season and Corey Crawford stopped 16 of 18 shots in the victory. Crawford also got his first assist of the season, a secondary one on Kane’s power-play goal in the third period.

Keith is sidelined 4-6 weeks after having right-knee surgery earlier this week. He had a slight limp as he left the arena following Thursday’s game. But the Blackhawks don’t have much time to lament his loss. All they can do is try to pick up Keith’s responsibilities, and he has plenty of those.

“It’ll be a collective effort,” van Riemsdyk said. “Because not one human can do all the things he does out there.”

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So a few humans picked up the slack. Van Riemsdyk played a career-high 22 minutes, 34 seconds, including time on the power play and penalty kill. Seabrook recorded his three-point night in a game-high 26 minutes.

The Blackhawks won the possession battle — having eight power plays didn’t hurt them in that department. Outside of the Panthers’ getting a 5-on-3 for 1:54 — Jaromir Jagr scored near the end of it — the Blackhawks kept their opponent in check.

“We had the puck in the offensive zone a lot didn’t give them many opportunities. I thought we played a real strong team game, had lot of contributions across the board. The young guys on the back end looked fine. It was a solid two points. [It was a] little haywire there with that 5-on-3, but we got through it.”

That’s a phrase the Blackhawks may use over these next few weeks. Keith is a big loss, and it’s going to be a bumpy ride without him. But if the Blackhawks get more team-wide performances like they did on Thursday night, the time without Keith may not be as bad.

“Any time he’s not out there you definitely miss him. But like I said, the guys stepped up; they did a good job. The defense did a good job of playing together. Our forwards did a nice job of coming back and helping out… and Crow was a wall again,” Seabrook said. “It was a team effort tonight and we’re going to need that going forward.”

Blackhawks assign Anton Forsberg to Rockford after clearing waivers

Blackhawks assign Anton Forsberg to Rockford after clearing waivers

Anton Forsberg cleared waivers on Tuesday morning and was assigned to the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League.

That's good news for the Blackhawks organizational depth chart, with Forsberg as the No. 3 in goal. But it also complicates things in Rockford, where Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen have been sharing the duties.

Delia is 3-1-0 with a 3.26 goals against average and .910 save percentage while Lankinen is 0-1-1 with a 3.39 GAA and .825 save percentage. Perhaps the most likely scenario is Lankinen gets sent to the ECHL with the Indy Fuel while Delia and Forsberg split the load in Rockford.

It's certainly a good problem to have, but it's still unclear how that dynamic will play out.

"We haven’t talked about that," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But we expect [Forsberg] to play."

Luke Johnson recalled

With a spot opening up on the 23-man roster, Johnson is being brought back up after he was squeezed out by Corey Crawford's return. He had a goal and an assist in two games with Rockford.

Brandon Saad returns to top-six role

After turning in arguably his best performance of the season on Sunday, Saad is back playing on the second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane. He had seven shot attempts (three on goal) against Tampa Bay and led the team in 5-on-5 possession numbers.

"[Saad] is coming off a game where we liked what we saw," Quenneville said. "Playing with Kaner can help him get going."

Nick Schmaltz to play right side for first time in NHL career

Eight games into the season and Schmaltz has spent time at both center and left wing. Now he'll get a look on the right side with Alexandre Fortin on the left and David Kampf centering the third line.

Part of the reason for Schmaltz’s move to the right side was because Quenneville said they like Fortin on the left. It's not unfamiliar territory for Schmaltz, but could take some time getting used to.

"I played a little while back, not sure when," Schmaltz said "Just a little bit different. Catching pucks on your forehand now instead of your backhand. It's not a huge adjustment, just play with speed and compete hard and hopefully the skill on our line will take over."

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers


Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

The Blackhawks have said all along that they don't plan on carrying three goaltenders, but wanted to do so during the three games in four days stretch just in case, with Corey Crawford coming back from a 10-month layoff because of a concussion.

After being encouraged by how Crawford has responded to his return, the Blackhawks placed goaltender Anton Forsberg on waivers Monday morning. Teams have 24 hours to put in a claim for the 25-year-old goaltender and would have to keep him on their NHL roster for 10 games and/or 30 days before he's eligible to go through the waiver process again.

His chances of getting claimed by any of the other 30 teams essentially depends on which teams believe Forsberg would be an immediate upgrade over their current backup — or starter, for that matter — or whether there's an injury to one of the team's two goaltenders that requires a placeholder, like we saw the Carolina Hurricanes do by claiming Curtis McElhinney from the Toronto Maple Leafs after Scott Darling's injury in the preseason.

If Forsberg goes unclaimed, the Blackhawks can assign him to the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs. With Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen sharing the goaltending duties in Rockford, it's possible Lankinen gets sent to the Indy Fuel in the ECHL to get consistent starts under his belt.

A third option, one that isn't very common but we've seen in the past as recently as last October with Maple Leafs goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo, is that Forsberg can be loaned to any AHL team while still being a part of the Blackhawks organization. This would allow the Blackhawks to keep Delia and Lankinen in Rockford while Forsberg gets his starts in the AHL, too.

Or, the Blackhawks could simply trade Forsberg to another NHL team that could stash him in the AHL, as long as he clears waivers. They did it last season with Chris DiDomenico, who cleared waivers as a member of the Ottawa Senators but was then traded to Chicago for Ville Pokka days later. Had DiDomenico been claimed by the Blackhawks, he would have had to stay on the NHL roster as noted above.

Forsberg was 10-16-4 with a 2.97 goals against average and .908 save percentage in 35 appearances last season but has not appeared in a game yet this year. He was acquired as part of the Brandon Saad package for Artemi Panarin in June 2017.