Blackhawks

The tides have turned in Blackhawks-Red Wings rivalry

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The tides have turned in Blackhawks-Red Wings rivalry

For years, the Blackhawks found themselves chasing the Red Wings in an Original Six rivalry that was one-sided for roughly a decade.

Now, the tides have turned.

The Blackhawks came at the Red Wings in waves during Sunday's 4-1 win over Detroit, their second victory against their former division rival in five days.

Patrick Kane wasted no time in helping the Blackhawks jump out to a lead, ripping one past Red Wings netminder Petr Mrazek just 21 seconds into the opening frame.

"They have a great team. Great offensive team," Mrazek said. "We were trying to get ready for that, and the first 15 seconds they had the 2-on-1 that they scored and that for sure helped them in the game."

Less than six minutes later, Duncan Keith slapped home a power play goal to give the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead, which prompted Detroit head coach Jim Blashill to replace Mrazek in goal for Jimmy Howard.

It was a gutsy move that certainly appeared to work when Gustav Nyquist responded shortly after with a goal of his own, putting a halt to Chicago's momentum.

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In the second period, it was all Red Wings, who peppered the Blackhawks with 13 shots on goals while allowing only three. But they failed to capitalize on the opportunity, and the defending Stanley Cup champions made them pay.

Artem Anisimov and Jonathan Toews scored two goals in a span of 1:08 midway through the third period to put the game out of reach for the Red Wings, who slipped to the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference after Pittsburgh's win on Sunday.

"I thought the guys showed up," Mike Green said. "I thought that we played well. They're a good team. You slip for a second and they'll put it in the back of the net."

The Blackhawks scored two more power play goals on Sunday, equaling the amount they scored in Wednesday's contest against Detroit.

And that may have been the difference.

"They're very good on the power play," Blashill said of the Blackhawks, whose power play now ranks No. 1 with a 24.1 percentage rate. "That's one area that they've, we've struggled against it obviously. I think that's probably what's separated them through the season. If you look at, I saw 5-on-5 goals ... goals for and goals against were virtually no different between our teams, but their power play has been really good.

"Corey Crawford has been real great in net and they've got real quick-strike offense and if you make mistakes, they can certainly make you pay."

[MORE: Corey Crawford, Blackhawks shut down Red Wings]

The Blackhawks, by far, lead the league in wins (36) when scoring the game's first goal and continued their run when leading after two periods since the start of the 2014-15 season, including playoffs, to 65-0-2.

It's been a key ingredient to the Blackhawks' success over the last seven years, which has resulted in three Stanley Cups and five Conference Final appearances, a familiar dominance last seen by the Red Wings.

The Red Wings haven't missed the postseason in 24 years, the longest active streak by any of the four major North American pro sports leagues. They're also the last team in NHL history to repeat as champions, accomplished in 1997 and 1998. 

The Blackhawks are seeking to become the first team to do that in the salary cap era, and once aspired to be in Detroit's shoes.

Is it the other way around now?

Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterman said "we don't look at it that way," but Tomas Tatar admitted it's hard not to want to emulate the Blackhawks.

"To be honest, I love playing against them," Tatar said. "They play nice hockey. I think that's how every team should be playing. They're really offensive, they're having fun out there, they're just fun to play against. Their (defensemen) are really joining the rushes, and that's what makes them really good."

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Although the rivalry took a bit of a turn in 2013-14 when the realignment forced the Red Wings to change conferences, it's still alive and well, and should be for a while.

Dylan Larkin was dubbed "The Next Jonathan Toews" in February's edition of The Hockey News magazine.

Andreas Athanasiou scored a highlight-reel goal over the weekend against Dallas, and nearly did the same in the first period of Sunday's game when he maneuvered his way past Brent Seabrook and Erik Gustafsson.

Tatar is young enough where his best days are still ahead of him. Same with Nyquist. So there's no reason to believe that the Red Wings will fall off the grid any time soon.

But for now, it's the Blackhawks' time to enjoy their spotlight.

"They have really good structure right now," Tatar said. "They have a few players that have been the franchise players for them and they've just been playing really good. And the last six years, they've been really successful."

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

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AP

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

The Blackhawks announced Monday that they have officially agreed to terms with forward Dominik Kahun, defensemen Lucas Carlsson and Darren Raddysh and goaltender Kevin Lankinen on entry-level contracts.

Kahun ($925,000 cap hit), Lankinen ($925,000) and Raddysh ($730,000) each signed two-year deals that run through the 2019-20 season while Carlsson's is a three-year deal that runs through the 2020-21 campaign and carries a cap hit of $792,500.

So who are these guys? Let's meet them:

Carlsson

Drafted in the fourth round (No. 110 overall) by the Blackhawks in 2016, Carlsson set a career-high with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 44 games this season with Brynäs IF of the Swedish Hockey League. He was tied for fourth among all blue liners with seven goals.

Carlsson, 20, doesn't have major upside, but he's a reliable, well-rounded defenseman and that's what drew the attention of Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley.

“When he’s on the ice, he makes things happen," Kelley told Scott Powers of The Athletic last summer. "I think what impressed the Sweden under-20 coach was Lucas’ ability to challenge in all three zones. He’s an active defensively. Offensively, he challenges. He keeps plays alive.”

Kahun

The 22-year-old forward spent the last four seasons with EHC München of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany's top professional hockey league, where he established career highs in assists (29), points (41) and tied a personal best with 12 goals, leading Munchen to their third straight championship in 2018 after recording four goals and 10 assists in 17 playoff contests.

He raised eyebrows at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, where he compiled five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games and won 55.4 percent of his faceoffs (41 of 74), helping Germany capture a silver medal.

“He has made an enormous step this year, has become much more stable and mature," German national team coach Marco Sturm said after the Olympics. "I am sure that he would grab it in the NHL,” Sturm told the Hamburger Morgenpost.

Most recently, Kahun had a goal and two assists in seven games for Germany during the IIHF Men's World Championship. He's 5-foot-11, 176 pounds whose known to be a solid two-way player and can play center but may need some time to adjust to the smaller ice surface and NHL style of speed and physicality.

Lankinen 

Lankinen is 23 years old and coming off a season in which he was in the discussion for the Urpo Ylönen trophy, annually awarded to the top goaltender of the Finnish Elite League, after registering a league-best 1.33 goals against average and .946 save percentage in 15 games with HIFK.

He missed a large portion of the season because of an injury, but it didn't stop him from turning in a strong postseason, guiding his team to a bronze medal after posting a 1.99 GAA and .936 save percentage in 13 playoff games. The year before that, he led the league with seven shutouts in 42 games, backstopping his team to a silver medal.

This is a low-risk, medium-sized reward signing for the Blackhawks, who could use some more young goaltending depth in the pipeline, especially given how this season unfolded with the big club.

Raddysh

The Blackhawks signed Raddysh to a one-year AHL contract last June, and he turned it into an NHL one after a strong season with the Rockford IceHogs.

Raddysh, 22, accumulated 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 66 regular-season games with the IceHogs, and has appeared in each of the team's playoff games en route to the Western Conference Final.

Last season Raddysh was named the OHL's top defenseman after scoring 16 goals and 65 assists for 81 points in 62 games for the Erie Otters, where he was teammates with current Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat. He's the Otters' all-time leader in assists (143) and points (184) among defensemen.

Raddysh might be nothing more than a depth defenseman, but his development is worth monitoring because the offensive production is there and that's something the Blackhawks lacked this past season from their back end.

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

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AP

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

Days after putting his Gold Coast condo on the market, Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa revealed to a Slovakian newspaper that he is moving back to his hometown country and doesn't plan on returning to the NHL.

"I will not play hockey anymore," said Hossa, who missed the entire 2017-18 campaign due to a progressive skin disorder and the side effects of the medications involved to treat it. "I have a valid contract with Chicago for the next three years, but I have only one health and it does not allow me to return."

Because he has three years left on a deal that carries a $5.275 million cap hit, Hossa is not expected to sign his retirement papers until the contract is completed or else it would result in salary cap consequences.

The news is not surprising, but it officially allows the Blackhawks to move on without him in the fold roster-wise and toy around with some options this summer.

The first is stashing his contract on long-term injured reserve, as they did last season when they utilized the in-season preference.

The second, which Hossa wondered could happen, is finding a trade partner that would absorb the remainder of his contract, usually done by lower payroll teams aiming to reach the cap floor.

And it wouldn't be difficult trying to find a buyer, considering Hossa's actual salary is $1 million per year over the next three seasons. Hossa, of course, has a no movement clause but it's likely he would waive it given his status at this point.

The good news for Chicago is, the three-time Stanley Cup winner didn't rule out joining the Blackhawks organization in some capacity after his contract expires in 2020-21, whether it's in a front office role or as a team ambassador.

In 19 NHL seasons, Hossa accumulated 525 goals and 609 assists for 1,134 points in 1,309 regular-season games, and added 149 points (52 goals, 97 assists) in 205 postseason contests. He's one of 45 players in league history to net at least 500 goals in his career.