Blackhawks

NHL Power Rankings: Central Division making early noise

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NHL Power Rankings: Central Division making early noise

The Central Division was the best in the league last season, and they're quickly making a case that they are again this year in our latest NHL Power Rankings.

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

 

Rank Team
Last Week Record/Comment
1 6

6-0-0, 12 points: Is it actually possible Carey Price can top last season?

2 7

4-1-0, 8 points: There is a lot to love about the Sharks right now, but let's see how they respond to adversity with Logan Couture (fractured right fibula) out 4-6 weeks.

3 15

5-1-0, 10 points: Five road games, four wins. And Vladimir Tarasenko is in the early running for Hart Trophy.

4 17

4-1-0, 8 points: A pair of impressive road wins at Tampa Bay and Florida. Tyler Seguin has six combined points in those two games.

5 3

4-2-0, 8 points: Tampa Bay's penalty killing needs improvement, but that shouldn't be a concern as they are one of the best teams in allowing the least amount of shots per game.

6 5

3-1-0, 6 points: The Capitals are undefeated this year when Alex Ovechkin is awake.

7 18

3-1-1, 7 points: No team had a better week than the Islanders, who got back starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak and rattled off wins over the Jets, Predators, and Sharks (all three in our Top 10).

8 13

4-1-0, 8 points: The Predators allowed an uncharacteristic 41 shots on goal to the Senators, but got some much-needed contributions from the power play to earn the victory.

9 8

4-2-0, 8 points: The Jets rank third in goals per game and third in goals against. They'll really be tested this week, with upcoming contests against Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Los Angeles and Chicago, all at home.

10 1

3-2-1, 7 points: Rick Nash only has one point through the first six games, something that needs to change after losing Martin St. Louis and Carl Hagelin in the offseason.

11 2

3-3-0, 6 points: The Blackhawks have yet to replace Brandon Saad on their top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, a position that's been a revolving door through Week 2.

12 14

3-1-2, 8 points: Give it up to the Canucks, who have picked up a point in all six games so far but one.

13   4

3-2-0, 6 points: The Red Wings are still looking for their groove, but there's plenty of time for that.

14 10

3-1-1, 7 points: The Wild have scored a power play goal in four of their first five games, but they're getting average goaltending from Devan Dubnyk.

15 22

2-3-0, 4 points: Forget about their spot in the standings, the Kings are the NHL's best puck possession team with a 62.1 Corsi.

16   11

3-2-0, 6 points: After a big 7-1 win to kick off the season, the Panthers have been 2-2 since with a plus-1 goal differential.

17   21

2-3-0, 4 points: Sidney Crosby has gone five consecutive games without a point, matching the longest streak of his career. Don't expect that to last any longer.

18 12

1-3-1, 3 points: The Ducks are averaging exactly one goal per game. Something tells us that will change soon.

19 9

 3-2-0, 6 points: The Coyotes are allowing a league-high 34.6 shots per game. Mike Smith has been really solid, but that's tough to consistently overcome for any goaltender.

20 16

3-2-1, 7 points: Erik Karlsson already has eight points through six games, but the Senators must patch up defensively if they want to prove themselves as a playoff-caliber team.

21   28

2-1-1, 5 points: Michal Neuvirth has been a hidden gem after posting two consecutive shutouts last week. He's saving them from falling further.

22 29 2-3-0, 4 points: David Krejci leads the NHL with nine points, and has done so in just five games.
23   20

2-3-0, 4 points: Puck possession remains an issue for the Avalanche. Could Patrick Roy be on the hot seat?

24   30 

1-3-1, 3 points: Say what you want about the Maple Leafs, but Mike Babcock has this team playing hard every night.

25 27

2-4-0, 4 points: Connor McDavid has four points (two goals, two assists) in his last two games, which has resulted in two Oilers wins.

26   25

1-4-0, 2 points: Buffalo's only win has come against the Blue Jackets, which isn't saying much.

27   27

1-3-1, 3 points: The Devils took three of four points from the Sharks and Rangers, but have only scored eight goals through five games.

28 24

1-4-0, 2 points: Noah Hanifin is going to be stud.

29 19

1-4-0, 2 points: Are the analytics catching up to the Flames or is it just a slow start? The Flames are a bottom-five puck possession team, owning a 46.6 Corsi.

30 24

0-6-0, 0 points: The Blue Jackets have allowed 30 goals en route to their worst start in franchise history. Change could be coming.

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

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Corey Crawford is BACK, are the Bulls legitimate playoff contenders?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Corey Crawford is BACK, are the Bulls legitimate playoff contenders?

Mark Lazerus and Hub Arkush join David Kaplan on the panel.

The guys discuss Corey Crawford’s return and what it means for the team’s playoff chances.

Khalil Mack misses practice again. The guys debate if it would be better to leave him out vs. the Patriots.

The latest on the MLB playoffs with controversy in Houston and gamesmanship by the Brewers.

Will Perdue and Kendall Gill join the panel to discuss Kris Dunn’s absence from the opener and the team’s playoff chances this season.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below.

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Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

He’s back.

Corey Crawford was officially activated from injured reserve on Thursday and will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes.

"It’s exciting," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks have assigned forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.

For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.

Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.