Blackhawks

Who goes where? Quenneville is already plotting the options

Who goes where? Quenneville is already plotting the options

For hockey coaches, thinking the game never really stops. With the Blackhawks likely not to make many more changes, at least among the forwards, coach Joel Quenneville is already thinking about line combinations, especially with those top two lines.

“You’ve got [Nick Schmaltz] who can play center or can play wing. [Artem Anisimov] in the middle, he can play with [Patrick Kane] so you’ve got some options there. With [Patrick Sharp] coming back and [Brandon Saad] coming back you’ve got some looks up front, some continuity from history and reacquainted again with [Jonathan Toews] and Saader on the the line,” Quenneville said. “And Sharpie and Kaner is a possibility.”

Yeah, there are a few options, some of which changed after the Blackhawks re-acquired Sharp on July 1. How it all turns out come early October is still to be decided but players are ready to move up, down, to center or wing if necessary.

“I think about a lot of different possibilities with the Hawks lineup,” Sharp said at the Blackhawks convention on Friday. “Playing for Joel for as long as I have in the past, I know that combinations can get moved around quite a bit depending on the game, depending on the time of year and the way different guys are playing. That’s something I’m prepared for and something I’m looking forward to, as well. I had my best years playing for Coach Q, and I know wherever he puts me in the lineup is probably going to be best for me and for the team, as well.”

OK, but the possibility of playing with Kane again has to be enticing for Sharp, even if he doesn’t want to say so. Past chemistry, past success, for a team that’s still working in younger players and will look to avoid the constant line shuffling of the past two years, those things matter.

When Quenneville talked at the NHL Draft in late June, he said Schmaltz would likely get first crack at the second-line left-wing vacancy. But with Sharp’s return, coupled with no Dennis Rasmussen (not qualified) and no Marcus Kruger (traded to Vegas and then to Carolina), the Blackhawks may need Schmaltz more at center. Schmaltz liked the instant chemistry he had with Kane last season but that was at center, his more natural spot, and he’s fine going back there if necessary.

While the top line should stabilize with Saad’s return, the second line could be the one trying to figure things out at left wing this season. Artem Anisimov was “shocked and surprised” when Panarin was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in June, but knows it’s a business and that adjustments will have to be made.

“I’m prepared for anything to come my way. I’ll try to work with anybody, coach Q puts on the left side,” he said. “We’ll work out what the best [combination] is going to be and the three of us will just go and play.”

“Every day you write down different combinations. You look at probability, the likelihood of who will be compatible with who,” Quenneville said. “So I think it will be fun trying to go through that process, not just on paper, but when you get them together and out there playing. We certainly have a lot of options up front.”

Blackhawks receive Joseph Cramarossa from the Penguins in minor league trade

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USA Today

Blackhawks receive Joseph Cramarossa from the Penguins in minor league trade

The Blackhawks have acquired forward Joseph Cramarossa from the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Graham Knott in a minor league trade. Cramarossa will report to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

The 27-year-old had three points, two goals, one assist, during nine games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this AHL season. Cramarossa was the alternate captain during the 2018-19 in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, playing 56 regular-season games, scoring four goals.

Cramarossa was initially drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the third round of the 2011 draft, making his NHL debut on the Ducks in 2016.  He played with the Ducks until he was traded to the Vancouver in 2017, playing in 10 games for the Canucks. He signed with Calgary as a free agent in September 2017 before being acquired by the Penguins in February 2018. Throughout seven seasons in the AHL (2013-2019) playing for the Norfolk Admirals, San Diego Gulls, Stockton and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Cramarossa recorded 72 points (32G, 40A) in 294 regular-season games.

Graham Knott is a 22-year-old forward selected by the Blackhawks in the second round of the 2015 NHL draft. Knott had eight goals in 126 career games with the IceHogs. The Blackhawks have now traded their top draft selections from 2017, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2009. Only Dach (2019), Boqvist (2018) and DeBrincat (2016) remain from this decade.

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Patrick Kane unhappy about Sebastian Aho cross-check: 'I just don't like that play'

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NBC Sports Chicago

Patrick Kane unhappy about Sebastian Aho cross-check: 'I just don't like that play'

Patrick Kane is as durable an athlete as they come. 

Since the start of the 2015-16 season, he’s missed only one game and it was because of an illness on Oct. 31, 2018 vs. Calgary, which ended a 258-game Iron Man streak.

The only time he’s missed significant action in his NHL career came during the 2014-15 campaign when he broke his collarbone and was sidelined for the final 21 games of the regular season.

Tuesday ignited some flashbacks for the former Hart Trophy winner.

With under a minute to play in regulation and the Blackhawks trailing by one, Kane went to retrieve the puck along the boards in the offensive zone and was cross-checked from behind by Sebastian Aho. Kane took a heavy, scary spill into the boards and it looked very similar to the hit Florida Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic laid on him on Feb. 24, 2015 that ended his MVP-type regular season.

"I just don't like that play," Kane said after practice on Wednesday. "I'm pretty sensitive to that play because that's kind of how I broke my collarbone four or five years ago. I just don't like that play where you're going in, your back's turned, you get the cross-check in the back when you're unsuspecting and the puck's not there, so I think that's where the frustration came from."

There was no penalty called and Kane threw his hands up in disbelief. The unfortunate part about the play is Aho probably gets a penalty if Kane stays down on the ice, but Kane’s instincts kicked in and he quickly got back up to try keeping the puck in the zone.

Frustrating boiled over after Aho scored the empty-netter with 17.6 seconds left to ice the game. Kane skated over to Aho and gave him a cross-check of his own, which resulted in a 10-minute misconduct. 

"When I got hit like that I was just trying to keep the play alive because I thought they would for sure call it, to be honest with you,” Kane said. “But there's plays throughout the game that don't get called and that's just the way it is. That one's probably more magnified because of the situation and how much time was left."

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