Blackhawks

Undisciplined play, pitiful PK bury Blackhawks

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Undisciplined play, pitiful PK bury Blackhawks

If youre going to take a lot of penalties, you better stop the opposing power play. And if you get those power-play chances yourself, you better take advantage of them.

The Blackhawks could do neither on Sunday night.

Vancouver scored five power-play goals, as many as the Blackhawks have all this season, and the Blackhawks struggled with both special teams in a 6-2 loss at the United Center. It was a forgettable night for the Blackhawks, who hadnt lost a game at home in regulation until this one.

The Blackhawks went 0 for 5 on their power play while letting the Canucks riddle their penalty kill for five goals. But as Jonathan Toews said, it was just a bad game in every way.

The power play, as usual as of late, wasnt very good. The penalty kill went for a hike today, too. But it went beyond that, he said. We didnt play a good game all around. If those things go better for us maybe we can keep it a tighter game and find a way to make a game of it the way we have some of these past games where we havent played our best game and we hang in there. But we didnt give ourselves a chance at all.

Indeed, for all their pregame talk about how much they looked forward to playing the Canucks, the Blackhawks didnt show it on the ice. They came out sluggish and Vancouver took advantage from the start. The Canucks were more determined, stronger and obviously ready to take advantage of their opportunities. The Blackhawks had five power plays but once again couldnt muster a goal on it.

Tonight was disappointing across the board, coach Joel Quenneville said. Some of our execution in both areas was very poor. Give them credit for making nice plays on the power play. But they were results of what we did on several of them. We had some chances around the net (on the power play). I thought we werent terrible there but were looking for production at the end of the night.

The Blackhawks penalty kill had buoyed the team on some of those nights the power play didnt; entering Sunday night, it had nullified 34 of 38 opponent power plays. But against Vancouver it disappeared, giving up one more goal (five) than they had in their previous 13 games combined (four).

A couple of those goals were just about trying to be in the shooting lane and blocking shots, said defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. Its something weve talked about, too. We just have to be better with stick positioning there so they cant do those cross-ice passes. It was pretty much impossible for (Corey Crawford) to stop those kinds of pucks.

Still, the Blackhawks had a bit of a chance in the second period after Marcus Kruger scored to make it 3-2. But just 43 seconds later the Canucks snuffed out that momentum with Jannik Hansens goal, an even-strength effort.

Thats something we cant allow, Hjalmarsson said. After that, the game was pretty much over. That was obviously a huge goal we let in.

The Blackhawks have done well this first month because theyve stayed in just about every game, giving themselves a chance to collect points each time. That, as well as their all-around game, was missing on Sunday.

We didnt give ourselves a chance at all, Toews said. We shouldve been expecting an effort like that from them. Im not sure why we took them lightly. We played well and did some good things all week. But we didnt show much of that tonight.

Hawks don camo jerseys
The Blackhawks will wear camouflage jerseys during warm-ups on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, before they host the Calgary Flames at the United Center. The jerseys will be autographed by the player that wears them and then will be auctioned online at www.chicagoblackhawks.com until 9 p.m. on Nov. 17. All proceeds will benefit the USO of Illinois.

Autographed jerseys by team ambassadors Tony Esposito, Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Denis Savard will also be available at the auction.

Blackhawks acquire Olli Maatta, send Dominik Kahun to Penguins

Blackhawks acquire Olli Maatta, send Dominik Kahun to Penguins

One of the Blackhawks’ priorities this summer is to add pieces that will help shore up the defensive part of their game after they gave up the second-most goals in the NHL last season. And they didn’t waste much time doing it.

Less than a week before the 2019 NHL Draft, the Blackhawks announced Saturday that they have acquired defenseman Olli Maatta from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for forward Dominik Kahun and a 2019 fifth-round pick.

Maatta is 24 years old, carries a left-handed shot and is a two-time Stanley Cup champion. But he battled injuries last season and fell out of favor in Pittsburgh, where he was a healthy scratch for three games in the first round of the playoffs.

The Blackhawks are hoping a fresh start could help Maatta find his game again, and do it in a place that may better utilize his skill-set. Where he could help is in the defensive part. 

According to The Point, Maatta ranked 9th among defensemen in blocked shots per game (2.05), 26th in defensive zone puck battles won (2.45), 40th in blocked defense zone passes (3.77) and 47th in outlet passes (8.95). 

Maatta, who was taken in the first round (No. 22 overall) in 2012, had 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 60 games last season. His best year came in 2017-18 when he tallied 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) in 82 games. He has three years remaining on his deal that carries a $4.083 million cap hit.

It’s worth noting that when Maatta signing his extension with Pittsburgh on Feb. 26, 2016, the contract included a modified no-trade clause in his final two years, according to Cap Friendly. The Blackhawks will have the option to either honor that clause or nullify it.

The Blackhawks are expected to have some heavy competition among the forwards at training camp with the signings of Dominik Kubalik and Anton Wedin. That likely made Kahun expendable despite a rookie season in which he compiled 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 82 games.

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Kaapo Kakko

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Kaapo Kakko

From June 10-20, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile one top prospect per day — 11 total — leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft as the Blackhawks prepare to pick third overall.

Kaapo Kakko

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 194 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report from The Draft Analyst's Steve Kournianos:

"Multi-tooled winger with size and coordination who incorporates his impressive puck skills with a desirable physical package that consistently exhausts opponents. Blessed with incredibly soft hands and tight-quarter quickness, Kakko is a reliable stickhandler who uses timing plays to either get open or create space for his linemates.”

NHL player comparable: Mikko Rantanen

Fit for Blackhawks:

Alright, let’s get this out of the way with: Kakko isn’t going to be on the board when the Blackhawks pick at No. 3. He’s expected to be taken second overall by the New York Rangers.

But, hypothetically, if he did slip, Kakko is probably one of two players in this draft class who could step onto an NHL roster today and make an immediate impact. He’s that good, and we saw it at the 2019 IIHF World Championship when he scored six goals to lead Finland to a gold medal. 

Kakko would give the Blackhawks a dynamic winger on the right side to go along with Patrick Kane, meaning they wouldn't have to worry about their top-six right wingers for many years to come. You shouldn't draft a winger this high unless he's as close to a sure-fire prospect as they come, and Kakko would qualify.

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