Blackhawks

NHL Power Rankings: Canadiens aim to make history

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NHL Power Rankings: Canadiens aim to make history

The Canadiens hold this week's No. 1 spot, and aim to make history after starting the season 9-0. Meanwhile, the Ducks — a preseason Stanley Cup favorite — have just one win through Week 3 and are averaging a league-worst 0.86 goals per game. Could Bruce Boudreau be the second midseason firing this year?

Check in with CSNChicago.com for updated rankings every Monday throughout the 2015-16 campaign. Here's where we're at so far: Preseason rankings | Week 1 | Week 2

 

Rank Team
Last Week Record/Comment
1 1

9-0-0, 18 points: The Canadiens are looking to become the third team in NHL history to open the season with 10 consecutive wins.

2 6

6-1-0, 12 points: The Capitals haven't lost since their second game of the season, and have a plus-14 goal differential during their five-game winning streak.

3 8

6-1-1, 13 points: The Predators are getting it done on both sides of the ice, ranking No. 3 in goals against (2.00) and No. 10 in goals scored (2.88).

4 4

6-2-0, 12 points: Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have combined for 12 goals and 12 assists in the first eight games of the season.

5 10 

6-2-2, 14 points: The Rangers recovered from a three-game losing streak by gathering seven points out of a possible eight this week, and outscored their opponents by 9.

6   11 

5-3-0, 10 points: Without Duncan Keith, the Blackhawks held Florida to 18 shots on goal and shut out last year's Eastern Conference champion.

7   7

5-2-1, 11 points: The Islanders own the fourth-best penalty kill unit through Week 3, a significant leap after finishing No. 26 last season.

8   5

5-2-2, 12 points: The Lightning are in the middle of a tough Central Division road trip, and have picked up at least a point in all three of those games.

9   3

5-2-1, 11 points: The Blues are the league's best puck possession team (58.1 Corsi), but have only scored the first goal of the game in two of their opening eight games.

10   15 

5-3-0, 10 points: Goals allowed during the Kings' five-game winning streak: 1, 1, 1, 0, 2.

11  

5-2-1, 11 points: The Jets may be able to remove some doubt whether they are contenders or pretenders with Chicago and Los Angeles, two of the league's best puck-possession teams, up next.

12   2

5-3-0, 10 points: The Sharks have allowed 16 goals in their last four games, and have given up at least one power play goal in all four of them.

13    14

5-2-1, 11 points: The Wild are 4-1 when Zach Parise scores a goal this season.

14   21

4-2-1, 9 points: Michal Neuvirth (upper-body injury) will be available for return on Thursday, which means the Flyers won't be without their 1-2 punch in goal for much longer.

15   16 

4-3-1, 9 points: The Panthers' depth will be tested after Aleksander Barkov, the team's fourth-leading scorer, will be sidelined for 2-to-4 weeks with a broken hand.

16   13 

4-3-1, 9 points: The Red Wings are being plagued with injuries yet again, but good news: Pavel Datsyuk practiced for the first time.

17   17

4-4-0, 8 points: The Penguins rank No. 29 in scoring, forcing coach Mike Johnston to spruce things up by separating Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

18   19

4-3-1, 9 points: After a 3-0 start, the Coyotes have dropped four of their last fives games. 

19    22

3-3-1, 7 points: The Bruins are averaging the third-most goals (3.86), but are allowing 4.14 goals per game, which ranks second-worst.

20   12 

3-2-3, 9 points: Henrik and Daniel Sedin combined for four points (two goals, two assists) in the season opener. In the seven games since then, they've combined for just five points (two goals, three assists).

21  27

4-3-1, 9 points: The Devils are on a four-game winning streak, but only one of those wins ended in regulation.

22    24 1-4-2, 4 points: Don't look now, but the fourth-best puck possession team is ... Toronto. The Leafs peppered 52 shots on Montreal, yet still couldn't crack Carey Price.
23    25

3-6-0, 6 points: Connor McDavid is on a five-game point streak (four goals, four assists). 

24 20

3-3-2, 8 points: The Senators got Andrew Hammond back, but that didn't help much. They're 0-2-2 after winning three of four to start the season.

25   28 

2-6-0, 4 points: Kris Versteeg is Carolina's leading scorer with five points.

26    23

2-4-1, 5 points: The Avalanche own a Top 5 special teams unit, but are the league's worst puck-possession team with a 39.6 Corsi. 

27 26

2-6-0, 4 points: The Sabres are averaging 1.88 goals per game, and it won't get any easier with Evander Kane (sprained MCL) out 4-to-6 weeks.

28 29 

2-6-0, 4 points: The Flames have yet to earn a win in regulation.

29 30

1-8-0, 2 points: The hiring of John Tortorella quickly takes attention off the players, which is great for a young team with high expectations.

30 16

1-5-1, 2 points: It appears the Ducks have officially tuned out Bruce Boudreau, whose team has been shut out in four of seven games this season.

*Advanced stats courtesy of war-on-ice.com.

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

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AP

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.