Blackhawks

Patrick Kane notches another hat trick as Blackhawks beat Penguins

Patrick Kane notches another hat trick as Blackhawks beat Penguins

If you've watched the Blackhawks for any amount of time the last few seasons you've recognized their love of two things: the four-line rotation (well, that's any team, really) and their love of versatile players who they can plug in various spots. On Wednesday night the latter part of that equation loomed large.

Patrick Kane scored his second hat trick in his last three games and Scott Darling stopped 36 of 37 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks have now won 10 of their last 11 games and are three points behind the Minnesota Wild, who were idle tonight.

Richard Panik scored his 17th goal of the season on a memorable move around Evgeni Malkin. Kane completed his hat trick with a no-look backhand into the empty net with 41 seconds remaining in regulation.

The Blackhawks suffered another injury, however, as Artem Anisimov left early in the second period with a lower-body injury. Coach Joel Quenneville said Anisimov could miss some time – "a little bit of time, not a lot of time." Asked if that meant Anisimov was out a week or two, Quenneville said he and the team would know more on Thursday.

And that brings us back to the versatility, which in particular served Nick Schmaltz very well on Wednesday. When Anisimov left Schmaltz took over the second-line center spot and didn't miss a beat. From his takeaway that led to Kane's first goal to his pass that led to Kane's second, Schmaltz took advantage of the opportunity. Quenneville said Schmaltz could end up in that spot if Anisimov misses some time.

"He gives us some options but tonight fitting in that hole where Arty was, we didn't know it was going to be like that but I like how he took advantage of it," Quenneville said.

Meanwhile, Darling, who played to give an ailing Corey Crawford another day to rest, was outstanding. The Blackhawks scored twice in the third but were outshot 13-6, and Darling denied the Penguins on every chance. Only Scott Wilson's slick, lifted backhand eluded him; officials needed replay to show Wilson, indeed, scored. Darling's biggest stop came on Matt Cullen, who was denied after taking a great pass from Sidney Crosby.

"It was a great play by them. It's more reflexes and just kind of being a goalie," Darling said. "[You're] just trying to get in the right position as quickly as you can. Lucky I got a glove on it."

Very little about the Blackhawks' game lately has been about luck. They're back to playing their team game, back to getting that great rotation, back to utilizing guys in must-need situations.

"We were trying all season to figure out the lines and manage it. Now we've found it," Panik said. "It's been really good for the team."

Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook practices for first time since surgeries

Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook practices for first time since surgeries

On Thursday, Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook joined the team for voluntary small-group workouts — under the NHL's Return To Play plan guidelines — at Fifth Third Arena.

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Nice to Seabs ya back on the ice Brent 👀

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The Hawks are scheduled to begin their training camp for the league's 24-team playoffs at Fifth Third, their practice facility, on Monday before taking on the Oilers in Edmonton beginning Aug. 1 in a best-of-five play-in series.

Related: If Seabrook returns, where does he fit in Blackhawks' postseason lineup?

The three-time Stanley Cup champion had surgeries on his right shoulder in December, left hip in January and right hip February. Thursday marked his first practice with the team since the surgeries.

On Saturday, The Athletic reported the blueliner wanted to suit up for this year's camp and postseason. 

Seabrook last played December 15 in a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild.

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Blackhawks restructure hockey operations department, remove eight from roles

Blackhawks restructure hockey operations department, remove eight from roles

The Blackhawks restructured their hockey operations department by changing the titles of nine staff members and removing eight others from their respective roles, according to the team's website. The Athletic's Scott Powers first pointed out the news.

Most notably, Norm Maciver was demoted from assistant general manager to vice president of player personnel. He had been in the assistant GM role for eight seasons and previously served as the director of player personnel for one and director of player development for three.

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The Blackhawks also made five promotions: Kyle Davidson's title went from assistant to the GM to assistant GM of hockey administration, Mark Eaton went from director of player development to assistant GM of player development, Ryan Stewart went from vice president of pro scouting to assistant GM of pro scouting, Mike Doneghey went from head USA scout to director of player evaluation and recruitment and Rob Facca went from amateur scout to head USA scout.

In addition, it appears three others were moved into part-times roles: Barry Smith, who previously served as the director of player evaluation, and Pierre Gauthier, who previously served as the director of player personnel, are now senior advisors of player personnel while Ron Anderson, who previously served as the director of player recruitment, is now the senior advisor of player recruitment.

The eight members who were removed from the team's website included pro scouts Derek Booth, Greg Hawgood, Steve Leach, Michael Mottau, Allan Power and Tom Younghans, player development coach Derek Plante and Rockford IceHogs/European strength and conditioning coach Kristian Skarphagen.