Blackhawks

Rob Scuderi brings experience, PK prowess to Blackhawks

robscuderihawkspenguinslide.png

Rob Scuderi brings experience, PK prowess to Blackhawks

Rob Scuderi didn’t foresee getting traded when it happened late Monday night but he’s all right with the result.

“Once you hear the team come through, it can’t help but put a smile on your face,” said Scuderi, who was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Trevor Daley. “You’re coming to a team that’s dominated its championship pedigree for five, six years now. To be a part of this group is an honor and I hope I can contribute.”

Scuderi will find out if he can do that starting Tuesday night, when the Blackhawks host the Colorado Avalanche. Coach Joel Quenneville said Scuderi pair with Michal Rozsival; Rozsival was a healthy scratch the previous two games. With Scuderi, the Blackhawks get a stay-at-home defenseman who should also help them on the penalty kill.

[MORE HAWKS: Blackhawks acquire Scuderi from Pittsburgh for Daley]

“Yeah, Rob’s definitely that type of defenseman: safe, reliable, dependable on the back end, simple. And he can kill penalties for us, has good experience,” Quenneville said. “We’ll see how it fits in but I think he can help us.”

In the deal, the Penguins claimed all of Daley’s cap hit and retained one-third of Scuderi’s hit. The Blackhawks picked up the remaining two-thirds of Scuderi’s money ($2.25-million per season). The cap space the Blackhawks get from this — just under $2.2 million, per generalfanager.com — was also a big selling point in the deal.

“[Scuderi] has won a couple of Stanley Cups and it’s never a bad thing to bring someone in with experience,” general manager Stan Bowman said. "He knows how to win and he’s been on good teams. The other part of it is we have some flexibility, some salary-cap room, something we’ve been looking for. It’s always going to be challenge regarding that going forward, but looking at our situation now, we find someone who will fit in nice with us, his style fits our play and he compliments the guys we already have.”

With Daley, the Blackhawks had hoped there would be a fit. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. Daley was playing better as of late but he the offense didn’t really materialize — outside of six assists — and he wasn’t playing the type of minutes he was during his Dallas Stars days.

“I think sometimes things just don’t work the way you draw them up,” Bowman said. “Trevor has a lot of talent and we certainly wish him well. He’s a class act. Sometimes it doesn’t work the way you expect it to. I think he’ll have a great opportunity to go there and play a lot and hopefully he helps them. I think it’s going to be one of those trades that works for both teams.”

Daley played nearly 23 minutes a game when he was with the Stars. With the Blackhawks, he averaged about 15 minutes a night.

“In his case, [Daley] didn’t get a chance to play the big minutes he was accustomed to playing. And right off the bat, it just wasn’t’ happening,” Quenneville said. “Sometimes it works out; it didn’t here. But I think he can help Pittsburgh. I think he was good in Dallas. He wasn’t here long enough to get a good assessment but his offense in games was coming along for us and defensively he was progressing as well. It’s a situation where both teams were probably looking for the type of defenseman to fit our needs.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!

The Blackhawks wanted more of a stay-at-home guy on the blue line. They also wanted help on the penalty kill.

“We have four guys we use right now who are good penalty killers, but when one takes a penalty you’re short,” Bowman said. “That’s the strength of Rob’s game.”

Scuderi also knows how to play in big-game situations; he won his first Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009 and his second with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012. Scuderi isn’t here to take on massive minutes; he’s here to enhance what the Blackhawks already have.

“I’m just going to make the simple play. If I have a few seconds I’ll find the open man but for the most part I’ll keep things simple, keep the puck moving north,” Scuderi said. “With all the talent up front up here, it makes sense to get the puck in their hands and let them take care of business. I’m not a flashy player, chances are if you notice me it’s because I made a nice play or a bad play. But most nights I’m invisible and that means I’m doing my job.”

BRIEFLY

- David Rundblad and Ryan Garbutt are both healthy scratches against the Avalanche.

- Marian Hossa did not participate in morning skate but is fine and will play.

- Corey Crawford will start against Colorado.

Four takeaways: 'Vintage' Corey Crawford steals two points for Blackhawks

crawford-1020.jpg
AP

Four takeaways: 'Vintage' Corey Crawford steals two points for Blackhawks

COLUMBUS — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday:

1. Corey Crawford steals the show

The Blackhawks had no business winning this game. They were being outshot 28-15 through two periods, committed four penalties and gave up 18 high-danger chances in the game. 

But Crawford bailed out his team like he often has done in the past, and was zoned in from the moment the puck dropped. He finished with 37 saves on 38 shots for a save percentage of .974, picking up his first win since Dec. 17, 2017.

"Yeah, I felt good," Crawford said. "I think everyone was playing hard, rebounds, taking away sticks. That was a great effort by everyone."

"He was standing on his head for us," Patrick Kane said. "As Q would say, that’s a goalie win for us."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was vintage Crow."

2. Tic-tac-toe leads to go-ahead goal

The Blue Jackets were clearly the better team through two periods. The Blackhawks were fortunate to go into second intermission with the game still tied at 1-1.

The next goal was crucial, and they got it thanks to a give-and-go play by Brent Seabrook and Kane, who buried home a wide open net to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead with 4:14 left in regulation.

Was Kane expecting Seabrook to pass it back?

"No. Not a chance," Kane said laughing. "That’s his wheelhouse, coming right down there. He scores a lot of goals from that area. Saw it was like a 2-on-2, he was coming late, he jumped in the play on the first goal, did a great job, jumped in the play on that goal. Made a great pass. When I saw it come back, I just tried to stay patient, settle it down and make sure I hit the net, because I knew I had the whole open net."

3. Busy night for PK

The Blackhawks penalty kill was very busy. It was also on it's A-game, partly because their best penalty killer was Crawford.

The Blackhawks spent 6:31 of the first 40 minutes killing penalties, allowing 11 shots total on it. But most importantly, they killed off all four penalties.

"We had some tough clears, but I thought we did some good things," Quenneville said. "We withstood some extended PK zone time there and found a way to keep us in the game. Obviously that next goal was huge and that second period was a big part of them having so much zone time, keeping us in our end. We'll say, hey good job, but Crow was the best penalty killer tonight."

4. Catching up with Kane on Artemi Panarin

Kane and Panarin spent only two seasons together, but they brought Blackhawks fans out of their seats on a nightly basis and it was amazing to watch the instant on-ice chemistry they shared. And most of it was non-verbal, which made it even more impressive. They were always on the same wavelength.

"Sometimes it takes time to build some chemistry but that was one of those things where it was like, I don't want to say instant chemistry, but after one or two preseason games we kind of new that maybe something special was going to happen," Kane told NBC Sports Chicago. "I think he scored in his first game in the NHL, we had a really good game, we had the puck a lot, we sensed that this could be a fun way to play hockey."

Off the ice, Kane said Panarin would use Google translate on his phone to communicate while Kane would try using a Russian accent while saying English words.

The two of them got a chance to hang out for a little bit on Friday and Kane still keeps tabs on his former linemate.

"I always really enjoy watching him," Kane said. "If we have an off night or something, he's a really fun player to watch."

Blackhawks and Blue Jackets both going through own challenges of Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad trade

saad_panarin_usa_today.jpg
USA TODAY

Blackhawks and Blue Jackets both going through own challenges of Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad trade

COLUMBUS — The Blackhawks and Blue Jackets blockbuster trade from the 2017 offseason is always a hot topic in Chicago when things aren't going great. It especially is when the two teams square off against each other, like Saturday at Nationwide Arena for the first time this season.

If it wasn't already apparent in Chicago, Artemi Panarin has emerged as a real NHL superstar and is set for a giant payday when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019. He set a Blue Jackets record with 82 points in a single season and has nine points (three goals, six assists) through six games this season.

Brandon Saad, on the other hand, had a challenging first year back with the Blackhawks in 2017-18 after netting only 35 points in 82 games and is off to a slow start this year as well with zero goals and two assists through six games. After a demotion to the fourth line, he was close to being a healthy scratch on Thursday, which only magnifies where things are at as the two get ready to clash.

But Saad was never going to be able to replace Panarin's offensive production. Everybody knows that. Yet, the offensive comparisons will always be there as a barometer and that's something Saad doesn't think about, no matter how much fans talk about it.

"I don't think I do it," he said. "We're different players. He's a great player. Fans are going to do whatever comparisons they want, but at the end of the day you've got to be true to yourself and do what you bring to the table. He's a great player around the league. You can see his highlights and his goals, he's definitely a special player. But at the end of the day I've got confidence in my abilities too. We both bring different attributes, but they're going to make comparisons regardless."

A big reason why the Blackhawks reacquired Saad, other than his ability to play a 200-foot game, is because he carries a $6 million cap hit through 2020-21, which is two years more than Panarin at the same cap hit. (It's also important to note that the Blackhawks hoped they were getting a reliable, young backup goaltender in Anton Forsberg, but the injury to Corey Crawford thrust him into a role he wasn't exactly prepared for.)

It's not all rainbows for Columbus right now regarding where things stand with Panarin, who has made it clear he's not ready to sign a long-term extension. All signs point to the 26-year-old winger hitting the market, putting the Blue Jackets in a tricky situation ahead of the trade deadline. The Blackhawks very well could have found themselves in this position, too, had a deal not been made.

Both sides are dealing with their own challenges of the trade. Saad is still a key piece to the Blackhawks' puzzle and they're hoping to get more out of him, for no other reason than the team's overall success.

"You want to have success regardless of who you're playing for, who you're traded for, things like that," Saad said. "Naturally, just as competitors, you want to bring that excitement and you want to have success with the team and personally."