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."

[RELATED: Five Things: Blackhawks' Patrick Kane hits milestone]

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."

Corey Crawford Keeps 2018-19 Mask Design

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USA Today

Corey Crawford Keeps 2018-19 Mask Design

Corey Crawford is a man who knows what he likes. Hockey By Design on Twitter shared a photo of Crawford’s mask for the 2019-20 season and it looks like he will be rocking the same airbrush mask he did last season. The design, by Stephane Bergeron of Griff Airbrush, features the Blackhawks logos and feathers backed a by a sleek black mask. What can we say, Crawford keeps it classic.

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Blackhawks mailbag: Could more trades be coming before 2019-20 season opener?

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AP

Blackhawks mailbag: Could more trades be coming before 2019-20 season opener?

Charlie Roumeliotis answers your Blackhawks and hockey-related questions. Be sure to chime in using the hashtag #HawksMailbag on Twitter for a chance to have your question answered in the next edition. 

Is there any chance we see the Hawks make a trade before the season starts?

The Blackhawks had as active a summer as any team, revamping their roster and filling out their depth through trades and free agency. And because of that, it's going to be an extremely competitive training camp.

While the organization acknowledged that it's important to be 26, 27 players deep throughout the course of an 82-game season, the Blackhawks have a handful of players fighting for the same spot or two: Drake Caggiula, Dominik Kubalik, Alex Nylander, Brendan Perlini, Dylan Sikura and Anton Wedin. Heck, even Kirby Dach.

August is always the dead period around the NHL. But come September, it wouldn't be surprising to see some movement around the league when teams figure out what they have on the ice. Training camp and preseason games are a time for GMs to evaluate who may be getting squeezed out, whether there's a breakout prospect emerging and it's also when the pressure point of having to be compliant with the cap.

The Blackhawks could be one of those teams looking to make a tweak or two before Opening Night, but don't expect anything significant.

Do you think Nylander makes the team this year or does he spend another season in the AHL? If he does makes the team, who do you see him fitting on a line with?

Alex Nylander is going to be given a fair shot to make the Blackhawks out of training camp, and it would be a disappointment if he didn’t. He was taken No. 8 overall in 2016 and simply hasn’t taken that next step in his development yet.

Perhaps the situation in Buffalo played a role in that, but it will truly be up to Nylander whether he does unlock his true potential in Chicago. There isn’t a reason for him not to. It’s a much healthier situation and the spotlight isn’t on him.

If Nylander does make the team, expect him to play with offensively-gifted players — guys who can help bring out the best in his abilities and think the game at the same level. But playing with those types of players also means you're drawing top competition on a nightly basis, so he will have to earn it.

Do you think all the additions this summer may be a strategic move to help prepare the Hawks for the expansion draft? (Keeping the prospects off the team till midseason or something so they remain draft protected/ineligible?)

Good question. The summer of 2020 is going to be a fascinating one for the Blackhawks because that's when teams are going to start making some moves ahead of the 2021 expansion draft. And as of right now, the Blackhawks are going to expose a really good player, whether they pick the seven forwards and three defensemen option or the eight skater one.

Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews all have no-movement clauses, so they must be protected (unless the player approves of being exposed, which is highly unlikely). Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome are two others who must be protected, so that's six right there. Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw are two others who are eligible. Same with Calvin de Haan, Olli Maatta and Connor Murphy. And if Erik Gustafsson signs an extension, he must be protected also.

Again, the list is deep. But to answer your original question, the primary focus this summer was to fill needs across the roster (physicality and defensive-minded players) and doing so through trades was the best possible option because they were able to get guys with term and a reasonable cap hit. Free agency is where the overpayment happens. The goalie situation for the Blackhawks is one to watch ahead of the 2021 expansion draft. 

As far as prospects go, Adam Boqvist and Kirby Dach will not be eligible for the expansion draft no matter how many games they play in this season and next because the draft happens before the 2021-22 calendar season. So that will not play a role in the organization's decision regarding when they play in the NHL.

What are your expectations for the goaltending tandem in Rockford? Delia appears to be the current starter, but Lankinen was really impressive this summer for Finland. Small-ish sample size, but he was phenomenal. Do you think it will end up being an even split at some point?

Collin Delia may have signed a three-year extension with the Blackhawks, but that doesn’t mean the organization doesn’t want to give Kevin Lankinen a strong look also. Delia has earned the right to be the starter, but the split between he and Lankinen will likely be closer to 50-50 if both goalies are performing.

Lankinen was sensational between the pipes for Finland at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, helping lead his country to a gold medal. But Delia is also taking significant steps in his development and doing so at a rapid pace. It should be a healthy competition in Rockford.

With so much prospect talk focused on Dach, Boqvist, & Delia (and rightfully so) is there a dark horse prospect (I'm talking about that under the radar grinder) fans should keep their eyes on & where are they expected to be playing this year so we can follow?

Two prospects come to mind when discussing potential dark horses: MacKenzie Entwistle and Philipp Kurashev. Both of them will be playing in Rockford this season.

Entwistle and Kurashev took significant steps in their development this past season, with Entwistle playing a key role in the Guelph Storm winning the OHL championship and Kurashev leading the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championships in scoring with six goals in seven games.

Entwistle is a player who knows exactly what his role will be in the NHL and has already embraced it: a bottom-six forward, reliable penalty killer and a leader on and off the ice. And that’s something the Blackhawks value about him.

Kurashev is more offensively skilled and has some sneaky upside to be a potential breakout player as a fourth-round pick. Keep an eye on him.

Is it October yet?

This really has felt like a long summer, hasn’t it? We’re almost there, Zane. 

A few checkpoints are coming up on the schedule though that may help speed up the process: Traverse City prospects tournament from Sept. 6-11, training camp festival on Sept. 15 and the first preseason game on Sept. 16. We're getting closer.

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