Connor McDavid

Blackhawks' home sweater voted as favorite by NHL players in recent poll

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks' home sweater voted as favorite by NHL players in recent poll

The iconic Indian-head sweater is still getting love around the NHL.

In a recent NHL.com players poll, the Blackhawks' home red sweater was voted the best jersey in the NHL.

Out of 59 players polled, 17 voted for the Blackhawks sweater as their favorite in the NHL. The next closest team was the Toronto Maple Leafs with five votes.

"Blackhawks, hands down," said Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews.

Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, the NHL's second star for the month of October, also lauded the Blackhawks sweater. 

"Growing up I had Colorado and Detroit, my two favorite teams, but Chicago is [a] pretty good [jersey]," Malkin said. "I love Pittsburgh, but if you say second one, it's Chicago."

Connor McDavid, Taylor Hall and Marc-Andre Fleury specifically like the Blackhawks home red jerseys, while Claude Giroux said the black alternate sweaters the team used to wear was among his favorites. 

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Connor McDavid not surprised by former linemate Alex DeBrincat's emergence in NHL

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USA TODAY

Connor McDavid not surprised by former linemate Alex DeBrincat's emergence in NHL

When Connor McDavid came to Chicago in February of 2017, Alex DeBrincat was just a prospect, a highly-touted one at that. But nobody really knew what to expect from a 5-foot-7, 165-pound winger and how his game would translate to the NHL at that size. Heck, the Blackhawks weren't even sure if he was going to make the team out of training camp in his rookie season.

And then all DeBrincat did was lead the team with 28 goals. This season, he's already got eight goals and 14 points through 12 games and has done it while matching up against the opponents' top lines.

McDavid, who spent one season as DeBrincat's teammate with the Erie Otters from 2014-15, didn't have any doubts about DeBrincat's transition then and isn't surprised now to see his former OHL linemate succeed so quickly at the highest level.

"He hasn't surprised me one bit," McDavid told NBC Sports Chicago. "I think people like to count him out just because of his size, but he's got such a big heart. He competes like anybody I've ever seen in my life. He's definitely one of those self-made players that you just kind of admire. I can't imagine what it would be like to play in the NHL at his size and his weight, but obviously he does an amazing job at it."

Critics expected DeBrincat's offensive production to drop when McDavid left for the NHL, where he would go on to win consecutive Art Ross Trophies as a 19- and 20-year-old in 2017 and 2018. But it didn't. In fact, DeBrincat's numbers got better.

After putting up 51 goals while playing on a line with McDavid, DeBrincat matched that the following year without him then registered 65 goals and 127 points in his third year. What's even more impressive is how easy he's made it look in the NHL, too.

"I think it's just his compete level," McDavid said. "It's blue collar, it's grind, you use your skill when you can and he's got both of those."

His compete level was evident when he recently instigated a scrap with Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson, who's 6-3, 217 pounds. That's an eight-inch difference height wise and 52 pounds on the scale. It showed a side of DeBrincat Chicago hadn't seen before, but one current and former teammates like McDavid knew has always been there. Couple that with a very offensively-skilled player and it makes for a special package.

DeBrincat is on pace for 55 goals this season, which seems unsustainable considering Alex Ovechkin won the Rocket Richard Trophy last season with 49 goals. But could he be a 40-goal scorer in the NHL?

"He plays with some very gifted players and he's gifted himself," McDavid said. "I think we'll start with him scoring 30 and then I would think 40's not too far down the road."

Four takeaways: Blackhawks wrap up busy stretch with overtime loss to Oilers

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USA TODAY

Four takeaways: Blackhawks wrap up busy stretch with overtime loss to Oilers

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center on Sunday:

1. Connor McDavid's overtime winner

The Blackhawks held McDavid off the scoresheet for 60 minutes. Usually that would be enough to get it done, as he's gone only one game this season without recording a point and it was a 3-0 loss.

But they couldn't keep him down in overtime, scoring the winner 53 seconds into it after burying a pass from Leon Draisaitl. McDavid has 17 points through 10 games and is surely going to be in the Art Ross Trophy discussion all season long.

2. Blackhawks get away with slow start

The Blackhawks, who were playing in their sixth game in nine days and the second of a back-to-back, were awarded three power-plays in the first period, which occurred within the opening 11 minutes.

Brent Seabrook cashed in on a 5-on-3 opportunity, converting on the Blackhawks' first shot on goal of the game at the 11:02 mark. They finished with four shots on goal in the first period, and got away with it being a 1-1 tie at intermission even though Zack Kassian scored with 1:34 remaining.

"I think if either team would’ve been A-plus tonight they would have had the puck a lot more," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But I still thought we were playing the game that was out there. Last period, last period and a half, I thought we were better. We were ordinary in the first period, but I thought we were OK the last two periods." 

3. Patrick Kane extends point streak

It didn't take too long for Kane to get back on the scoresheet. With a primary assist on Seabrook's goal, Kane has now picked up at least a point in 11 of 12 games this season and stretched his point streak to six games.

He trails Mikko Rantanen for the NHL lead in points with 18 total, and remains atop the leaderboard in goals (11).

4. Nick Schmaltz is a takeaway machine

It wouldn't be a complete takeaways piece without an actual takeaway reference, right? Going into Sunday's game, Schmaltz had 10 takeaways on the season. He had four against the Oilers, three of which came in the second period alone. It was a terrific defensive display.

His 14 takeaways trails Mark Scheifele by one for the league lead in that department.