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The day after Thanksgiving offers up a potential Western Conference finals preview when the Blackhawks travel to California to face the Ducks.

Prospect watch: Goalies Carruth, Darling, Tomkins have big week

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
6:54
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Here’s a look at how some of the Chicago Blackhawks’ prospects are doing throughout the world:

Mac Carruth, goaltender, Indy Fuel (ECHL), drafted 7th round in 2010
Carruth, 22, made 23 saves and recorded a shutout in the IceHogs’ 3-0 win over the Chicago Wolves on Sunday. It was his first AHL game of the season. He is 0-2-2 with a 3.69 goals-against average and .872 save percentage with the Indy Fuel in the ECHL this season.

Scott Darling, goaltender, Rockford IceHogs (AHL), signed as a free agent in 2014
Darling, 25, picked up two wins for the IceHogs over the weekend. He had 22 saves in a 4-3 win over the Iowa Wild on Friday and 38 saves in 3-2 win over the Milwaukee Admirals on Saturday. He is 7-2-0 with a 1.97 goals-against average and .932 save percentage this season.

Matt Tomkins, goaltender, Ohio State (NCAA), drafted 7th round in 2012
Tomkins, a sophomore, was named the Big Ten Second Star of the Week on Tuesday. He had a 1.54 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in Ohio State’s series split with Michigan State last week. He recorded his first career college shutout with 29 saves in a 3-0 win on Friday. He had 17 saves in a 3-1 loss on Thursday. He leads the Big Ten with a 2.11 goals-against average. He is also 3-4-1 with a .917 save percentage.

Ryan Hartman, forward, Rockford IceHogs (AHL), drafted 1st round in 2013
Hartman, 20, had two goals in the IceHogs’ 4-3 win over the Wild on Friday. He has four goals and four assists in 19 games this season.

Garret Ross, forward, Rockford IceHogs (AHL), drafted 5th round in 2012
Ross, 22, scored two goals in the IceHogs’ 3-0 win over the Wolves on Sunday. He has six goals, six assists and is a plus-10 in 19 games this season.

Brandon Mashinter, forward, Rockford IceHogs (AHL), acquired from Rangers in 2013
Mashinter, 26, had a goal and two assists in the IceHogs’ three wins last weekend. He has five points in the last four games and has four goals and seven assists in 16 games this season.

Dennis Rasmussen, forward, Rockford IceHogs (AHL), signed as a free agent in 2014
Rasmussen, 24, had a goal and an assist in the IceHogs’ 3-2 win over the Admirals on Saturday. He has four goals and two assists in 19 games this season.

Chris Calnan, forward, Boston College (NCAA), drafted 3rd round in 2012
Calnan, a sophomore, had two goals in a 5-3 win over Massachusetts on Friday and an assist in a 4-1 win over Maine on Saturday. He has five goals and two assists in 11 games this season.

Michael Paliotta, defenseman, Vermont (NCAA), drafted 3rd round in 2011
Paliotta, a senior, scored a goal in Vermont’s 11-1 win over UMass Amherst on Saturday. He leads Vermont as a plus-9 and is tied for second with 10 points. He has three goals and seven assists in 12 games this season.

Anthony Louis, forward, Miami Ohio (NCAA), drafted 6th round in 2013
Louis, a sophomore, had a goal and an assist in Miami’s 5-2 win over Western Michigan on Saturday. He has three goals and 11 assists in 14 games this season.

Tyler Motte, forward, Michigan (NCAA), drafted 4th round in 2013
Motte, a sophomore, had a goal in Michigan’s 8-1 win over Penn State on Saturday. He has four goals and two assists in 11 games this season.

John Hayden, forward, Yale (NCAA), drafted 3rd round in 2013
Hayden, a sophomore, had a goal and an assist for Yale over the weekend. He leads the Bulldogs with eight points. He has two goals and six assists in seven games.

Fredrik Olofsson, forward, Chicago Steel (USHL), drafted 4th round in 2014
Olofsson, 18, had a goal and an assist for the Steel over the weekend. He has eight goals, eight assists and is a plus-4 in 17 games. His 16 points set a new career high for him in the USHL.

Anders Nilsson, goaltender, Kazan Ak Bars (KHL), acquired from Islanders in 2014
Nilsson, 24, stopped 17-of-19 shots in a 3-2 win over Barys on Monday. He’s 10-3-4 with a 1.80 goals-against average and .936 save percentage in 18 games this season.

Nick Schmaltz, forward, North Dakota (NCAA), drafted 1st round in 2014
Schmaltz, a freshman, continues to be out with a lower-body injury. He has missed the last four games for North Dakota. He has one goal and seven assists in nine games this season.

Shaw expected to play vs. Avs; Sharp close to returning

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
11:36
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw is expected to play against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday after missing three games with an upper-body injury, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Tuesday.

“I think Shawzy is going to skate with us today,” Quenneville said on “The Coach Q Show” on WGN-720 AM on Tuesday morning. “He’s been skating on own, and he’s been working out on his own. And he wants to play; he wanted to play last game. We expect him to be playing [Wednesday] night.”

Shaw has three goals, three assists and is a minus-4 in 18 games this season.

Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp is also close to returning to game action, according to Quenneville. He said Sharp could play against the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 3. Sharp has been out since suffering a lower-body injury Nov. 4. He was expected to miss 3-4 weeks.

“Sharpie has been skating,” Quenneville said on his show. “It looks like he’s going to be close to be playing here at the end of this trip. I would likely see him starting when we get back playing when we got St. Louis in the next week.”

Sharp has three goals, six assists and is a minus-2 in 13 games this season.

The Blackhawks have three games remaining on their six-game road trip. They’re 2-1-0 on the trip.

Top 20 UFAs for 2015 

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
10:28
AM CT
Custance By Craig Custance
ESPN Insider
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 Martin St. Louis, Paul Martin and Antti Niemi Getty Images Martin St. Louis, Antti Niemi and Paul Martin are the top impending free agents at their positions.
When Jason Spezza signed his four-year contract extension with the Dallas Stars worth $7.5 million per season, the initial thought was that it seemed high for a player on the downside of his career.

All it took was a quick glance at the 2015 free-agent center options, and suddenly that money didn’t look so bad.

The free-agent market seems to get thinner each year, making signing your current players a smart priority. That’s one reason why Spezza likely isn’t the last to get a deal done here in the next month or so.

“You’re going to see teams try to get deals done. There might be more of an urgency to get deals done,” said one agent with a couple of high-end players in contract years. “The cap isn’t going to go up significantly, so the prominent guys are being locked in.”

Spezza would have been one of the top three players available. What does the UFA list look like without him? Here’s an early look at the Top 20, with updates on where some of negotiations currently stand:


1. Martin St. Louis, F, New York Rangers

The Rangers were St. Louis’ preferred destination when he was leaving Tampa Bay, so there’s no reason to believe he’s going anywhere. He’s been a great fit with the Rangers, was their spiritual leader during their trip to the Stanley Cup finals and has 17 points through 20 games so far this season. At 39, he might be at the point where he’s willing to do one-year deals that come with bonuses that can be rolled over.

Top Hawks prospect Teravainen dealing with frustration

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
7:33
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
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TeravainenAnthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports"Of course, I'm not too happy" not to be piling up the points at AHL Rockford, Teuvo Teravainen said.

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Teuvo Teravainen wasn’t his usual cheerful self as he met with the media after the Rockford IceHogs’ game Sunday.

The 20-year-old Finn knew the questions before they were asked. As the Chicago Blackhawks' top prospect, he has become accustomed to queries about his development and his path to the NHL. He often has been more than happy to provide those answers.

But lately, it has been different for Teravainen. He expected to be in the NHL by now. Even when he was assigned to the AHL out of Blackhawks training camp, the center was optimistic his time in Rockford would be short. It hasn’t been.

Teravainen has been with the IceHogs for nearly two months, and it’s unknown when the Blackhawks will come calling for him. Management has said constantly the team is taking a patient approach with Teravainen and his development. It’s just that Teravainen’s patience is getting tested and his frustration has grown.

“I don’t know if I’m happy or I’m not happy [about my game],” Teravainen said Sunday. “I just try to play here. I know it’s pretty hard playing here. It’s different hockey. It’s not my type of hockey maybe, AHL hockey. I think there’s a difference with NHL hockey and AHL hockey. I’m just trying to do my job here and play my best."

Not being in the NHL is part of Teravainen’s frustration, but another part is the style of most AHL games. Teravainen thrives on puck possession and offensive skill, and the AHL isn’t always the best canvas for that.

The Blackhawks aren’t looking to change Teravainen’s game, but they have been trying to get him to adapt.

“He’s just trying to find his way, a little inconsistent maybe,” IceHogs coach Ted Dent said. “I think he would be the first to tell you he wants to play better. He wants to be better. He wants to have the puck more. He’s just going to have to learn, you know, at this level you have to go and get it. You have to battle hard in the tough areas to get the puck. It’s not a perimeter game. You have to play between the dots at times and you have to go to the net as well.”

Dent has seen brilliance from Teravainen. Dent thought the center played his best game for the IceHogs last week, when he had two assists in a victory over the Texas Stars. Dent has also seen Teravainen struggle.

Dent said he understood the whole experience must be taxing on Teravainen, and that it has led to some frustration. Dent, like the Blackhawks, has preached patience.

I think he would be the first to tell you he wants to play better. He wants to be better. He wants to have the puck more. He's just going to have to learn, you know, at this level you have to go and get it. You have to battle hard in the tough areas to get the puck. It's not a perimeter game. You have to play between the dots at times and you have to go to the net as well.

-- Ted Dent, Rockford IceHogs coach,
on Teuvo Teravainen
“Maybe lots of different things going through his head,” Dents aid. “You know it just takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight for some guys, as we’ve seen in the past with the [Brandon] Pirris, the [Jeremy] Morins, the [Jimmy] Hayes, the [Dylan] Olsens. It doesn’t happen instantaneously where they become NHL players in their first 10 games here, with the exception of guys like [Patrick] Kane and [Jonathan] Toews that bypass the American League and went right to the NHL. For me, it’s just a process, and he’s just starting that path.”

Mark Bernard, the Blackhawks' hockey-administration director and minor league affiliations general manager, took in Sunday’s game between the IceHogs and Chicago Wolves. Bernard said his message to Teravainen has been the same as that coming from Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman.

“I think that’s the biggest word -- patience with the process,” Bernard said. “Teuvo is coming over [from Finland]. He’s 20 years old. This is a foreign country for him. He’s left a lot behind, his family. He’s learning the game on a smaller ice surface where things develop and happen a lot quicker. I think he’s right on track. We don’t want to push this kid too hard. We don’t want to put pressure on him. He’s going to develop at a nice pace. When he’s needed in Chicago, I’m sure he’ll be ready.

“People forget Bryan Bickell spent four years in Rockford/Norfolk and Corey Crawford spent five. They’ve turned out to be pretty good National Hockey League players. So I think it’ll be a good transition for all of our players. It’ll be something Teuvo might look back on in a few years’ time and go, ‘You know what? That was time well spent for me.'"

Teravainen has often measured his game by his point totals. He typically has been among his team's offensive leaders wherever he’s gone. Those numbers aren’t adding up for him this season -- he has two goals and eight assists in 17 games -- and that has been another area of frustration.

“I know I need some points,” Teravainen said. “I know I need to affect some offensive game. Right now, I have no points in this weekend. Of course, I’m not too happy. Our team is winning, so that’s all that matters. If I’m not getting any points, I need to [play] defense well. I think I played good defense [Sunday]. That’s all that matters.”

Teravainen’s agent, Chicago-based Markus Lehto, has tried to keep Teravainen from focusing on such things as his stats. Lehto wants Teravainen to utilize the AHL to get better in specific areas and prepare him for the NHL.

“I tell Teuvo to look beyond the numbers,” Lehto said. “Concentrate on the details. Faceoffs are really, really important. They determine whether your team has the puck. One-on-one battles, use your quick stick, use your quick feet and even use your body.

“Don’t worry about the numbers and whether you’re leading the league in scoring. That shouldn’t be a factor whether he’s ready to play in the NHL or not. I’m not saying the guys aren’t good in Rockford. I’m saying the guys with the Blackhawks are a little better than in Rockford. The points he has in Rockford might be double with the Blackhawks. Work on the details, and, yes, work on the difference between European hockey and North American hockey, even if American League hockey is different than the NHL.”

Lehto has also worked with Teravainen to not fall in the rut of worrying about when his NHL opportunity will come. Lehto said he and Bowman have had an open dialogue about Teravainen.

“It’s about being mentally tough and seeing the big picture,” Lehto said. “No just floating around and going through the emotions and waiting for that day. ‘When is someone coming to pick me up?’ It’s not about that. It’s about playing hockey. It’s not NHL hockey, but you adjust.”

Teravainen is trying to follow that advice.

“I know [the Blackhawks have] played good here,” Teravainen said. “The Blackhawks take whoever they want there. I’m trying to stay positive and be ready whenever they need me.”

Blackhawks reassign Danault to Rockford

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
4:19
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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The Chicago Blackhawks reassigned forward Phillip Danault to the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL on Monday.

Danault, 21, was recalled on Friday and played in his first two NHL games over the weekend. He had zero points and averaged 9:30 of ice time.

Danault replaced forward Andrew Shaw in the Blackhawks lineup. Shaw missed three games with an upper-body injury and is expected to play again when the Blackhawks face the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.

Danault has three goals and seven assists in 14 games with the IceHogs this season. He is in his second full professional season.

Hawks fall despite Corey Crawford's exceptional effort

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
12:59
AM CT
By Ryan Dittrick
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Chicago Blackhawks looked very much like a team on the second half of a back-to-back set Sunday night.

Disjointed, chaotic, on and on.

[+] EnlargeCrawford
Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports"Game in, game out, he's giving us a chance," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said of his netminder. "We didn't give him the result he deserved."
For everyone but Corey Crawford, that is.

Fortunate to be tied after 40 minutes of play, the well ran dry -- a sputtering offense failed to produce when, on the flip side, Vancouver Canucks forward Jannik Hansen was busy putting the finishing touches on his first career hat trick in a 4-1 final.

"We didn't have much of anything going tonight," Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said. "Vancouver had way more pace, way more energy and puck support.

"We were lucky to be in the game."

Making his 11th straight start, Crawford was exceptional -- an elite performance from one of the NHL's best, preventing an otherwise lopsided game from getting out of hand.

"He was amazing. Absolutely amazing," Kris Versteeg, who scored the Hawks’ lone goal, said postgame. “Crow's been great all year, but he was something special tonight, no question. If it wasn't for him, we're probably looking at a different result on the scoreboard. He kept us in it and gave us a chance, which is all you can ever ask from your goaltender … but when we make the kind of saves he was making tonight, it's such a boost. It's a shame we didn't get the result for him tonight."

Among his 26 saves, Crawford’s best will make the highlight reels coast-to-coast for the days, weeks and months ahead -- sure goals thwarted by fine displays of athleticism.

Radim Vrbata, whose deflected shot from the high slot was emphatically picked off by the netminder's glove, was the first to bear witness. Then, in a tie game late in the second period, Crawford had a little magic left in tow, lunging across and extending every inch of his 6-foot-2 frame to negate Henrik Sedin's one-touch offering with the tip of his skate blade.

Crawford came into the night with a 1.90 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage -- elite numbers, indeed.

"He's been excellent. Consistent. Game in, game out, he's giving us a chance," Quenneville said. "We didn't give him the result he deserved."

The Blackhawks were outshot 30-25, but the discrepancy in quality scoring chances was far greater.

The Hawks got on the board at 7:55 of the second period, scoring just 12 seconds into a power-play opportunity.

"On back-to-back nights, you try to play a simple game,” Versteeg said of the team’s lack of execution. "We held ourselves in it for a while … They have some good players over there that can make some great plays, and that's exactly what they did. It was a pace we're generally comfortable with, but whether it was fatigue or something else at play, we couldn't keep up. Tied going into the third period, you've got to be happy with the position you're in. Then we gave up the first one, the next one. Before you know it, we're down by a bunch. We're better than that, and we'll show it.”

Added Hawks forward Patrick Kane: "We have a lot more to give. Tonight wasn't good enough."

Alongside Kane and Brad Richards, Versteeg now has three goals and seven points in his past four games. The winger was one of the Hawks' better forwards tonight, playing nearly 19 minutes and coming to the aid of Kane after No. 88 was drilled with a questionable hit from behind by Canucks defenseman Luca Sbisa late in the opening 20.

Beyond that, the emotion, and the myriad "wow" moments from their all-star netminder, the Blackhawks just couldn't get anything going offensively. The 50-foot neutral zone may as well have been a chasm, entrenched -- appropriately, along the shores of the Pacific Ocean here in Vancouver -- by a sea of blue sweaters.

"Even if we're not dictating the pace of the game, we've got to make sure we're making things more difficult on them to create offense," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "We made mistakes all over the place and it cost us. We've had a good trip, 'til tonight. It will be good to get some rest before we get back at it on Wednesday in Denver."

Hansen, Miller lift Canucks over Blackhawks 4-1

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
11:47
PM CT
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Jannik Hansen scored the first hat trick of his career Sunday as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1.

Radim Vrbata had the other goal for the Canucks and Ryan Miller made 24 saves to get the win as Vancouver (14-6-1) celebrated assistant captain Daniel Sedin's 1,000th NHL game with a hard-fought win.

Bo Horvat had his first three NHL assists, while Derek Dorsett added two of his own.

Corey Crawford finished with 26 stops for Chicago (12-8-1) in the loss.

After giving Vancouver a 1-0 lead in the first period, Hansen snapped a 1-1 tie with his fourth goal in the last three games at 6:24 of the third. Dorsett chipped the puck down the boards into the Chicago zone before directing a shot toward the goal that Hansen deflected into the top corner for his eighth of the season.


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Rapid Reaction: Canucks 4, Hawks 1

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
11:36
PM CT
By Ryan Dittrick
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night at Rogers Arena.

How it happened: Jannik Hansen's first career hat trick provided the bulk of the offense in a lopsided game from start to finish. The Canucks, who controlled the pace for much of the evening, drew first blood at 13:13 of the opening period as Hansen capitalized on a bit of a broken play in the slot, slapping a shot past Corey Crawford after eluding checks in the slot. While the Hawks' power-play struggled mightily on the night, it did engineer the equalizer just shy of the 8-minute mark of the second. The red-hot Kris Versteeg connected with a Duncan Keith point blast, redirecting a shot past Ryan Miller just 12 seconds into their third advantage of the night. But the Canucks took over from that point forward, scoring three times in the final frame -- Hansen at 6:24, Radim Vrbata at 17:36 and Hansen again at 19:17, an empty-netter -- sealing victory on a night when the Blackhawks just couldn't get anything going offensively.

What it means: The Hawks suffer their first loss of the circus trip after stringing together a pair of wins off the top. Chicago is now 12-8-1 on the year, third in the Central, and four points back of the division-leading St. Louis Blues.

Player of the game: With the help of an empty-netter, Hansen's hat trick performance lifted the Canucks to victory, but getting there was no easy task. Simply put, Crawford was incredible. Making his 11th straight start, the veteran made 26 saves on the night, many of them miraculous, and was the difference in a game that could have easily gotten out of hand. A pair of world-class stops highlighted the night -- the first coming hot off the stick of Vrbata, who redirected a point shot into the webbing of the goalie’s trapper, while the second, a cross-crease one-time shot by Henrik Sedin, was literally stopped by the width of a skate blade. Crawford lunged across to meet the offering foot-first, stretching his heel to deny the opportunity.

Stat of the game: Versteeg extended his point streak to three, tallying the Hawks' lone goal in the defeat. Alongside Patrick Kane and Brad Richards, the winger now has three goals and seven points in his past three games.

What’s next: The circus trip enters the back half as the Hawks travel back to the States to take on the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday before wrapping up their season-long, six-game excursion with a back-to-back set versus the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Corey Crawford to make 11th straight start in net at Vancouver

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
7:19
PM CT
By Ryan Dittrick
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Corey Crawford will make his 11th straight start Sunday night as the Circus Trip reaches the halfway point with a date against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.

Antti Raanta was scheduled to get the start Saturday night against the Edmonton Oilers, but the Finn fell ill following Saturday’s morning skate, opening the door for Crawford to slot in at Edmonton. Crawford made 24 saves on 25 shots to earn his ninth victory of the season.

According to Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, Raanta is feeling better Sunday but isn’t yet ready to go in a starting capacity.

“We'll probably do what we did with him last night, tonight,” Quenneville said of having Raanta off the bench and in the dressing room. “We’ll see how he feels. That’s probably where he’ll start the game, anyway.”

Shaw 'getting close'

The Blackhawks will once again be without the services of Andrew Shaw, who will miss his third straight game with an upper-body injury. Shaw did skate Sunday morning for the first time since Wednesday’s practice in Chicago but isn’t quite ready as he returns from what Quenneville originally figured to be a “short-term” ailment.

“He’s doing much better,” Quenneville said. “He wanted to play tonight. He’s close.”

Delightful debuts

Ben Smith assumed one of the vacant positions at center before Phillip Danault was recalled late Friday afternoon.

Danault has recorded three goals and seven assists for 10 points in 14 games this season with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. Playing over 11 minutes on a line with Bryan Bickell and Daniel Carcillo, the 21-year-old amassed three hits and an even rating in his NHL debut Saturday, earning praise from the normally reserved Hawks head coach.

“Excellent,” Quenneville said, commending the youngster’s “tenacious” performance in Saturday’s 7-1 rout of the Oilers.

The same can be said of Adam Clendening, who scored in his NHL debut Thursday, then added his first assist and second point of the season in Edmonton.

Clendening and Danault will be in the lineup again Sunday night.

“Both players have done well in the time we’ve seen them,” Quenneville said. “It’s important we keep that going and reward them for their contributions so far. It will be a tough test tonight. Vancouver’s playing very well, so we’re excited to see how the guys handle it.”

It’s unclear which defenseman will sit out in Clendening’s place -- Michal Rozsival or David Rundblad.

Blackhawks' 20-game season review

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
1:46
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Corey CrawfordJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesCorey Crawford has played some of the best hockey of his career through the first 20 games.


The Chicago Blackhawks are almost a quarter of the way through the season after playing 20 games. Here are 15 things we have learned about them so far:

1. The Blackhawks don’t have an amazing record at 12-7-1, but it’s not bad considering their early scoring troubles and they are still right there among the Central Division leaders. They’re in third place in the Central behind the Nashville Predators (13-5-2, 28 points) and St. Louis Blues (13-6-1, 27 points). The Blackhawks are trending upward. They’re on their first three-game winning streak of the season and have won five of their last six games. One area they have already corrected from last season is their overtime/shootout record. They were 3-8 last year and are 4-1 this season.

2. The Blackhawks can still fill the net. They went through an unlucky stretch early in the season, when they were leading the league in shots but didn’t have the results to show for it. That’s changed in the last few weeks. Their shooting percentage is getting back to normal. They have scored 32 goals over the last eight games. They still lead the league in shots (36.7 per game) and their scoring average is up to 2.95, which is tied for seventh. Their shooting percentage is still a few percentage points below their average the last few years, so expect the goals average to increase some more over time. The Blackhawks were third in shots-per game (33.1) and second in goals-per-game (3.18) last season.

3. Corey Crawford is playing at an elite level. He has a 1.90 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in 14 games. He ranks fifth in the league in save percentage. His start to the season is comparable to what he did in the shortened 2012-13 season, when he was consistent throughout the season and finished ranked sixth in the league in save percentage. It’s the only time he’s finished in the top 10 in save percentage. He has held opponents to two goals or less in 10 of his 14 games this season. He’s especially improved against the power play. He had a .864 power-play save percentage last season and it’s currently at .905.

(Read full post)

Hossa, Hawks find 'killer instinct' in 7-1 drubbing of Oilers

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
1:07
AM CT
By Michael Arcuri
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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Chicago BlackhawksAndy Devlin/Getty ImagesMarian Hossa scored his first goal in 10 games and recorded four points in the Hawks' rout.

EDMONTON, Alberta — Meetings between the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers have seen plenty of fireworks in recent seasons. In eight of the past 11 games, the winning team has scored at least five goals. Luckily for Chicago, the past four have gone in its favor.

“Those games were an awful feeling,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Saturday night of blowouts at the Oilers' hands. “But every game’s different. We had a great start tonight, and I think that was the difference.”

“Tonight, it was fun at the beginning, when we got the offense going,” Marian Hossa said after Chicago finished off a 7-1 drubbing. “Especially against this team, because they had our number a couple years ago.”

Hossa, who discussed his recent on-ice frustrations at practice Saturday morning, broke out of his nine-game goalless skid in a big way. The 35-year-old showed slick hands on the power play and waited out a sprawling Ben Scrivens for the tally. The goal wasn’t enough for Hossa, who added three assists.

“It definitely feels nice to score," Hossa added. "To get that feeling back when you celebrate."

Chicago’s three-game win streak coincides with the reunion of the team’s top line of Hossa, Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad. The trio combined for three goals and five assists Saturday, while setting the pace for the rest of the team.

“I think the line in the three games since they’ve been reunited have been solid. The team game has been feeding off of them," Quenneville said. "It was just a matter of time before Hoss gets hot. It’s a pretty dangerous line in a lot of ways. All three guys bring something different to the table, and there’s a lot of potential there."

Chicago pounced early. Toews showed excellent poise and silky hands in collecting an errant pass on the backhand before opening up Scrivens for the 5-hole goal just 3 minutes, 48 seconds into the game. It took Marcus Kruger just 55 seconds to add on by ripping a shot glove-side past the Edmonton keeper.

“We just want to get that killer instinct," Hossa said. "We tried to jump on them and score a couple, then you’re playing the right way."

An early lead took the pressure off Corey Crawford, a surprise starter in goal. Antti Raanta was expected to man the pipes but fell ill during morning practice.

“We called an audible there," Quenneville said. "[Raanta] was sick and unable to go tonight, and Crow did a good job for us tonight."

Crawford stopped 24 of 25 shots, much to the angst of the Oilers fans, who booed their team off the ice.

“I don’t think we really care about the other team," Crawford said. "It’s more about continuing to play the right way and not getting complacent.

“You have got to be ready. With the more experience you have, you learn that throughout the years, anything can happen, and you have to stay ready. They had some chances late. I don’t want to start getting into bad habits, either, I just want to stick to my game. There’s always the next shot.”

Quenneville was coy when asked if Raanta would be able to start Sunday night's tilt at Vancouver.

“We’ll talk about the goalie later on, and we’ll see how he’s feeling," he said. "[Raanta] said after the game he is starting to feel a little bit better.”

Toews, Hossa lead Blackhawks in 7-1 rout of Oilers

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
12:02
AM CT
video

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Marian Hossa had a goal and three assists, and Jonathan Toews scored twice as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Edmonton Oilers 7-1 Saturday night.

Marcus Kruger, Kris Versteeg, Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane also scored for the Blackhawks (12-7-1), who have won three straight and five of six.

David Perron scored for the Oilers (6-13-2), losers of six in a row overall and seven straight at home. Edmonton has yet to win a game against Western Conference opponents, dropping to 0-10-1.

The Blackhawks took control with goals on their first two shots.


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SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jonathan Toews
PTS GOALS AST +/-
18 9 9 1
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsJ. Toews 9
AssistsM. Hossa 12
+/-N. Hjalma... 7
GAAC. Crawford 1.98