Blackhawks

Patrick Kane does best Denis Savard impression with highlight-reel goal in Blackhawks win

Patrick Kane does best Denis Savard impression with highlight-reel goal in Blackhawks win

Patrick Kane has scored so many clutch goals in his National Hockey League career that the list has reached a point where it's too long to count.

He's also become a YouTube sensation, known for his nifty puck-handling skills and ridiculous shootout moves.

He added another one to both categories in Sunday's 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens, and did so on the same play.

On a night the Blackhawks honored Denis Savard in their launching of "One More Shift" — an ode that recognizes past alumni and allows them to skate on the ice one more time — the reigning Hart Trophy winner did his best impression of the Hall of Famer by scoring an early goal-of-the-year candidate.

Late in the second period of a tie game, Kane undressed a Canadiens defender in front of the net with a smooth toe drag, drew a penalty, and, while trying to fend off a different defender, fired an off-balance shot that whizzed past Chicago native Al Montoya's glove and ignited a sold-out United Center crowd of 21,762.

"That had the wow factor all over it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Off that original play and then all of a sudden he makes a play with a guy draped all over him, makes a great shot falling to the ice. It was a spectacular play by a great player. Fun to watch."

It was vintage Patrick Kane, who showed incredible improvisational instincts.

“I just tried to make a play, got tripped up, at that point you’re just throwing (it at) the net hoping something happens,” Kane said. “I got lucky there. Nice to see it go in.”

It left Montoya in awe, too.

"There’s not many guys that can make that play," he said. "He’s one of two and (Pavel) Datsyuk is already gone. Heck of a goal.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The goal turned out to be the game-winner, the 46th of Kane's career in that category, passing Bobby Hull and tying Savard for fourth-most in franchise history. 

Even Savard, who coached Kane during his rookie season in 2007-08, has become numb to the special things Kane does and can do on the ice.

"That's what he is, that's what he does," Savard said during the second intermission. "He's the type of player that's going to score big goals on big stages. Not cause it's my stage tonight (laughs) because it's his stage all the time, but the fact we're playing the Montreal Canadiens, it's a big game for him in his mind obviously and he's going to try to be the best player that he can be out there.

"Pretty special goal. We've seen that many times. It's not the first one and they're tough to get, tough to do, and especially how he did it, it was pretty special."

It never gets old to his teammates either, including the 37-year-old Marian Hossa who's been around long enough to see some great ones.

"It was so beautiful," Hossa said. "Obviously he showed his quick hands, went through the two guys, saw the goalie coming, quick flip to the top shelf. Not many guys can do it."

Kane continued his dominance at home this season, where he has five goals and nine assists in 11 games compared to four points in five road games.

He's giving Chicago fans their money's worth, especially when he scores goals like the one he did Sunday.

Asked where it ranks among his top goals scored, Kane had to think hard about it.

And still, he wasn't quite sure.

"You know what, I think ... I don't know," he said, before admitting: "That was a different one, that's for sure. I don't know if I've scored going to the ground like that. Pretty cool for sure."

Recapping breakout OHL season for Blackhawks top prospect Adam Boqvist

Recapping breakout OHL season for Blackhawks top prospect Adam Boqvist

The London Knights set high expectations for themselves going into the 2018-19 OHL campaign. They always do. Their roster is usually loaded with top NHL prospects and this season was no different.

After finishing No. 1 in the Western Conference with 99 points, the Knights looked poised to go on a deep run. They got off to a roaring start in the playoffs by sweeping the Windsor Spitfires (4-0) and kicked off the second round by winning three straight against the Guelph Storm. But then, for the first time all season, the Knights lost four in a row to squander a 3-0 series lead and were eliminated just like that. It was a disappointing finish for a team with Memorial Cup aspirations.

One of the bright spots of the postseason was Blackhawks prospect Adam Boqvist. He was tied for first among all skaters with 10 goals through two rounds; no other defenseman had more than six. And he finished with 13 points in 11 games for a points-per-game average of 1.18.

To summarize his season: Boqvist scored one goal in his first 15 games. From that point on, he finished with 29 goals and 60 points in 50 games, including playoffs. He became an offensive driving force.

It's unclear what his future holds, but with Evan Bouchard expected to turn pro and secure a full-time roster spot on the Edmonton Oilers next season, returning to London would put Boqvist in a position where he could be the No. 1 defenseman in all situations.

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Blackhawks 2018-19 season grades: Front office

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AP

Blackhawks 2018-19 season grades: Front office

If we're evaluating Stan Bowman's moves as a whole, we have to go back to July 1 when the 2018-19 season really started.

On that day, the Blackhawks announced three signings: Chris Kunitz (one year, $1 million), Brandon Manning (two years, $2.25 million cap hit) and Cam Ward (one year, $3 million). Not exactly splashy additions after missing the playoffs for the first time in 10 years — although, to be fair, it wasn't a great market to throw money around.

Eleven days later, the Blackhawks traded Marian Hossa and his $5.275 million cap hit to the Arizona Coyotes in a seven-player deal that included top-nine winger Vinnie Hinostroza. Bowman acknowledged after the trade that he tried exploring every possible avenue before surrendering that the financial flexibility became more valuable.

But the trade might've put the team in a better position going into free agency had it been executed before July 1. Because of all that, Bowman's grade isn't looking great so far.

Then we get into the actual regular season.

The biggest move Bowman made was the coaching change on Nov. 6 in going from future Hall of Famer Joel Quenneville to Jeremy Colliton, which was a controversial decision in and of itself, especially the timing of it.

“There’s no perfect way to do things," Bowman admitted. "I think we made the best of it at the time. It’s one of those things where you’ve just gotta get through it. I think he’s gonna benefit from not only having a training camp next year but also we had this whole long stretch of a season. ... We’ve got a lot more things we want to get to, and I think we did a good job of — it’s a good start, but I’m sure Jeremy will tell you that we want to be way better next year and we’re gonna push our players to be better. We’re gonna try to do things differently. It’s not just taking this exact same program and we’ll start that. We want to do different things as well and enhance our team. I think there’s reason for hope there.”

Where did Bowman start to earn high marks? The roster tinkering, beginning in late November.

Perhaps recognizing that Nick Schmaltz wasn't progressing the way the team would have liked in a contract season, Bowman dealt him for a potential future second-line center in Dylan Strome and replenished the top-nine forward they lost in Hinostroza with Brendan Perlini, who showed flashes down the stretch. That's turned out to be a win-win for both sides.

The trade that was very clearly one-sided is the one Bowman pulled off with Peter Chiarelli, who was later relieved of his GM duties with the Edmonton Oilers.

Not only did Bowman acquire rugged winger Drake Caggiula, who became such a valuable part of the Blackhawks' second-half turnaround because he was a perfect complement for Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on the top line, but he unloaded the contract of Manning without having to retain salary or giving up an important piece of the roster. It essentially gave the Blackhawks an extra $2.25 million to work with this summer, which shouldn't go unnoticed when you look at how deep the 2019 free agent class is.

Bowman essentially undid the mistake he made and put the Blackhawks in an even better position going into this offseason by adding a useful player on top of it. So he certainly upped his overall grade.

Now it's time to spend the money he cleared in getting rid of the contracts of Hossa and Manning, and continue building around the current core.

"We're not going to bring the same group back," Bowman said. "That's clear. We don't do that really any year. There's changes to every team, even a team that ends up winning the Cup this year will have some different players. We're going to have some new players next year. What we're going to do is try to improve in the areas where our team needs some help and the way that looks isn't completely clear right now, but we have time over the next couple months to dive in and look at our team in greater detail and figure out how we're going to make that happen.

"There's obviously free agent signings, there's trades, there's growth from within. Those are the ways that your team improves from year to year and we're going to do that. So we're going to have some new players here next year for sure but we have a lot of players that are going to be back and I think a lot of the key guys who had good seasons they're coming back for sure, so we don't need across the board changes but we do need some new players."

Front office: B-

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