Now with Blackhawks, Richard Panik awaits opportunity


Now with Blackhawks, Richard Panik awaits opportunity

Richard Panik has that look of a guy who’s just happy to be here – finally.

“I was supposed to fly somewhere else to get the visa. Then I found out I could get it in Toronto but it still didn’t work out, so I had to wait,” Panik said with a smile.

But all that paperwork fun is now behind Panik, who donned a No. 14 jersey and participated in his first skate with the Blackhawks on Tuesday morning. Now he’s just ready to take advantage of the opportunity he could be getting.

Panik will not play when the Blackhawks host the Nashville Predators but coach Joel Quenneville said the latest acquisition will get in on the next trip, either in Montreal or Toronto. When the Blackhawks first acquired Panik on Jan. 3, Quenneville said he could get a shot on one of the team’s top lines – figure that to mean the first line, since Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane are still clicking on the second. That could still be a possibility, but Quenneville wants to get Panik going before figuring things out.

“It’s good to see him at least get here. He went through a tough process getting over the border but he’s here now,” Quenneville said. “We’ll get him on the ice and [get] a couple of skates for him before we determine whether he plays in Montreal or Toronto.”

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It won’t be easy to crack a lineup that’s won seven in a row coming into Tuesday’s game. But Quenneville said that wouldn’t be a reason to keep Panik out, either.

“It’s always something to consider,” Quenneville said. “Sometimes you have to measure the success. Sometimes you don’t want to change a winning lineup, which we normally don’t do. But a couple of games ago we changed, and the guy [Brandon Mashinter] comes in and scores a goal. So every game’s different. We’ll see.”

With Panik the Blackhawks get a left wing with some experience – 151 career NHL games. General manager Stan Bowman said he’s been looking at Panik as a possibility for some time.

“He's got a lot of talent and he's had some opportunities in the NHL,” Bowman. “He didn't really get an opportunity this year [in Toronto]. He's a big guy, he can skate, he's got good hands and I think he's just looking for that opportunity to find the right mix and hopefully it'll be a nice fit. We'll see here. We're just getting him going. Today was the first time we've had him on the ice and we'll give him a chance to get up to speed, but we're excited to see him in a game.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Panik was hoping to make the Maple Leafs this season but that didn’t happen. He was playing with the Leafs’ minor-league team, the Marlies, when he got word of the trade.

“I was excited,” said Panik, who understands breaking into and staying in this lineup won’t be easy. “It’s a good team. I have to earn a spot so I’ll do my best and hopefully it’ll work out for me.” 

Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning


Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center on Sunday:

1. Blackhawks on wrong side of history 

Earlier this year the Blackhawks made history by appearing in five straight overtime games to start the season, something no team in NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB history has ever done.

But Sunday they found themselves on the wrong side of it after allowing 33 shots on goal in the second period alone. It tied a franchise high for most given up in a single period — March 4, 1941 vs. Boston — and is the most an NHL team has allowed since 1997-98 when shots by period became an official stat.

"It's pretty rare to be seeing that much work in a period," said Cam Ward, who had a season-high 49 saves. "But oh man, I don't even know what to say to be honest. It's tough. We know that we need to be better especially in our home building, too. And play with some pride and passion. Unfortunately, it seemed like it was lacking at times tonight. The old cliche you lose as a team and overall as a team we weren't good enough tonight."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was a tough, tough period in all aspects. I don’t think we touched the puck at all and that was the part that was disturbing, against a good hockey team."

2. Alexandre Fortin is on the board

After thinking he scored his first career NHL goal in Columbus only to realize his shot went off Marcus Kruger's shin-pad, Fortin made up for it one night later and knows there wasn't any question about this one.

The 21-year-old undrafted forward, playing in his his fifth career game, sprung loose for a breakaway early in the first period and received a terrific stretch pass by Jan Rutta from his own goal line to Fortin, who slid it underneath Louis Domingue for his first in the big leagues. It's his second straight game appearing on the scoresheet after recording an assist against the Blue Jackets on Saturday.

"It's fun," Fortin said. "I think it would be a little bit more fun to get your first goal [while getting] two points for your team, but I think we ... just have to [turn the page to the] next chapter and just play and be ready for next game."

3. Brandon Saad's most noticeable game?

There weren't many positives to take away from this game, but Saad was certainly one of them. He had arguably his best game of the season, recording seven shot attempts (three on goal) with two of them hitting the post (one while the Blackhawks were shorthanded).

He was on the ice for 11 shot attempts for and five against at 5-on-5, which was by far the best on his team.

"He started OK and got way better," Quenneville said of Saad. "Had the puck way more, took it to the net a couple of times, shorthanded."

4. Special teams still a work in progress

The Blackhawks entered Sunday with the 29th-ranked power play and 25th-ranked penalty kill, and are still working to get out from the bottom of the league in both departments. In an effort to change up their fortunes with the man advantage, the Blackhawks split up their two units for more balance.

They had four power-play opportunities against Tampa Bay and cashed in on one of them, but it didn't matter as it was too little, too late in the third period — although they did become the first team to score a power-play goal against the Lightning this season (29 chances).

"Whether we're looking for balance or we're just looking for one to get hot, I think our power play has been ordinary so far," Quenneville said before the game. "We need it to be more of a threat."

Four more minor penalties were committed by the Blackhawks, giving them eight in the past two games. That's one way they can shore up the penalty kill, by cutting back on taking them.

Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period


Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period

Well, things could be going better for the Blackhawks during Sunday's game against the Lightning.

In the second period Sunday, the Blackhawks surrendered 33 shots on goal, tying a franchise record for most in a single period. The previous instance occurred March 4, 1941 against the Boston Bruins, a game that the Blackhawks lost 3-2.

While the Blackhawks tied a franchise record for shots on goal allowed, they actually set an NHL record at the same time. The NHL did not begin recording shots on goal as an "official" statistic until the 1997-98 season.

Consequentially, Sunday's 33 shots on goal allowed in the second period is the "official" record, even though the Blackhawks accomplished the "feat" nearly 80 years ago. Confusing, huh? 

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, they also surrendered three goals and scored zero in addition to the plethora of shots on goal allowed. They recorded just six shots on goal in the second period themselves, trailing 4-1 by the time the third period started.