Chicago Blackhawks: Duncan Keith

Hawks honored to be voted into All-Star Game

January, 4, 2015
Jan 4
2:02
PM CT
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews recently glanced at the number of votes he and his teammates were receiving for the All-Star Game.

Toews had been voted for about a million times when he looked at it. When he discovered Sunday he ended up with more than 1.2 million, he was even more impressed.

“That’s a lot of votes, I guess, eh?” Toews said.

The Blackhawks said Sunday they were honored and humbled to have five of their players -- Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford -- voted into the All-Star Game. The Blackhawks filled five of the six spots in the balloting. Buffalo Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons was the lone non-Blackhawk to be voted into the game. The final tally was announced on Saturday night.

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Year in review: Best and worst of 2014

December, 30, 2014
12/30/14
2:11
PM CT
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Patrick Kane, Jonathan ToewsAP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastThe Hawks made sure their future will remain bright by re-signing Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
The Chicago Blackhawks were going to have a difficult time matching 2013 no matter what they accomplished in 2014. The Blackhawks did come close to defending the Stanley Cup in 2014, but fell short of their goal. Recapturing the Cup is where the bar is set now, and anything less is a disappointment for the franchise and its fan base. The Blackhawks can be hopeful their success in the last few months of 2014 leads to another celebratory year in 2015.

BEST MOMENTS


5. Making their countries, Hawks proud: The Blackhawks were well-represented in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Ten Blackhawks were picked to play in Sochi: Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp helped Canada won gold again, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger and Johnny Oduya won silver medals with Sweden, and Michal Handzus (Slovakia), Marian Hossa (Slovakia), Michal Rozsival (Czech Republic) and Patrick Kane (U.S.) also participated in the Olympics.

[+] EnlargePatrick Kane
AP Photo/Chris CarlsonPatrick Kane added to his playoff legacy with a tie-breaking goal in Game 6 of the Western finals.
4. Outdoor fun: The Blackhawks hosted their second outdoor game, and this one went better than their loss to the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field. Despite having to play through wind and snow, the Blackhawks skated around the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 5-1 victory at Soldier Field on March 1. Jonathan Toews stole the show with two goals and an assist. Kris Versteeg became the first player to score at Wrigley Field and Solider Field.

3. Kane delivers again: Patrick Kane has had his share of special playoff goals. He added to them in 2014. One of his biggest of the year came in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Kings when he broke a 3-3 tie with a goal with 3:45 remaining in the third period. The Blackhawks won 4-3 and forced a Game 7. Altogether, he had four game-winning goals and 20 points in the playoffs last season.

2. Survive and advance: The Blackhawks were on the ropes after losing the first two games of the opening round of the playoffs to the St. Louis Blues. The Blackhawks needed someone to step up in Game 3, and Corey Crawford answered the call. Crawford denied all 34 shots he faced and the Blackhawks pulled out a 2-0 win. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock thought Game 3 was his team’s best game. Kane scored an overtime game-winner in Game 4. Toews scored an overtime game-winner in Game 5. The Blackhawks went on to win the series 4-2. The Blackhawks also took the Western Conference semifinals 4-2 over the Minnesota Wild.

1. Re-signing Kane and Toews: The Blackhawks may not have won the Stanley Cup in 2014, but they increased their chances of winning future Cups by re-signing Kane and Toews to identical eight-year, $84-million contracts. The contracts were Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman’s priority the last few years, and the deal was completed on July 9. Their extensions go into effect next season and they will be signed through the 2022-23 season.

WORST MOMENTS


5. Wakey, wakey: Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook was suspended three games after his elbow connected with Blues forward David Backes' head in Game 2 of their first-round series. Backes appeared dazed and was slow to get up after the hit, and a microphone caught someone say “Wakey, wakey” to him. None of the Blackhawks admitted to it. Backes missed two games with an upper-body injury.

[+] EnlargeJonathan Toews
Jerry Lai/USA TODAY SportsThe Blackhawks' Stanley Cup defense came to an end against the Kings thanks to Alec Martinez's game-winner in Game 7.
4. Second-half slump: The Blackhawks weren’t exactly cruising into the playoffs last season. They went 18-14-8 from Jan. 1 to the end of the regular season. They had three losing streaks of three games or more and just one winning streak of more than two games during that span. They finished in third place in the Central Division and had to start the playoffs on the road.

3. Quenneville fined: Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was fined $25,000 for inappropriate conduct when he grabbed his groin area and yelled at the officials during Game 1 against the Blues. Quenneville apologized and described it as a stupid move. Fans had fun with the GIF of his action for some time.

2. Kane and Toews’ injuries: The Blackhawks finished the regular season without their top two players due to injuries last season. Kane missed the final 12 regular-season games after suffering a lower-body injury against the Blues on March 19. Toews endured an upper-body injury when he was hit into the boards against the Penguins on March 30. He sat out the final six regular-season games. The Blackhawks were also highly criticized for not retaliating against Brooks Orpik and the Penguins for the hit on Toews. The Blackhawks had been without Kane and Toews at the same time in just one game prior to last season.

1. Kings eliminate Blackhawks: The Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup defense and chance at back-to-back championships ended when the Los Angeles Kings' Alec Martinez scored a game-winning overtime goal in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. The Blackhawks had won six consecutive playoff series before falling to the Kings, who went on to win the Stanley Cup.

Opposing power plays have been no match for Blackhawks' PK

December, 23, 2014
12/23/14
9:58
AM CT
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Marian GaborikMike DiNovo/USA TODAY SportsThe Blackhawks have allowed just eight power-play goals in 95 opportunities this season.
CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane entertains his Chicago Blackhawks’ teammates by the different ways he’s able to put pucks inside opponents’ nets.

Kane’s teammates entertain him with the ways they keep opponents’ power plays from doing the same on the Blackhawks’ net.

“It’s fun to watch,” Kane said. “You’re confident when you take a penalty that it’s going to be killed off. They’re doing a great job.”

Great may not be a strong enough adjective for what the Blackhawks' penalty kill has been doing. Their penalty kill is headed toward becoming the NHL’s best of all time. The 2011-2012 New Jersey Devils hold the league’s regular-season record with an 89.6 penalty-killing percentage. The Blackhawks have a 91.6 percentage through 34 games.

Like Kane’s offensive game, the Blackhawks’ penalty kill can beat an opponent in a lot of different ways. They disrupt passing lanes. They’re aggressive when they need to be, but also hold back when the situation calls for it. They work together like an orchestra in a lot of ways. They possess depth with each forward and defenseman being as capable as the one they replaced. They’re not afraid to step in front of shots. It’s also helped their goaltenders have made saves when the puck has gotten through to the net.

Put it all together, and the Blackhawks’ penalty kill is difficult to score upon. The Blackhawks have allowed eight power-play goals in 95 opportunities this season. They have shut out opponents on the power play in 27-of-34 games. In December, the Blackhawks have killed off 23-of-25 penalties.

With the Blackhawks’ power play still lacking consistency -- it’s ranked 16th in the league with a 18.0 percentage -- it’s the penalty kill which has often come to the special teams' rescue, especially in close games. The Blackhawks have held their opponents without a power-play goal in six of their 11 one-goal wins this season.

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Hawks notes: Antti Raanta pleased to still be in NHL

December, 19, 2014
12/19/14
3:26
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CHICAGO -- Antti Raanta was disappointed not to see more of himself in the first episode of EPIX’s Road to the NHL Winter Classic.

Raanta hopes to correct that in future episodes, and he’ll have that chance because he was chosen over Scott Darling to remain as the Chicago Blackhawks’ No. 2 goalie behind Corey Crawford earlier this week. The Blackhawks reassigned Darling to the AHL on Tuesday. Darling and Raanta each started four times in Crawford’s absence.

Raanta, who is normally happy, was even happier Friday to still be with the Blackhawks as they returned to practice after two days off.

“When you have this kind of chance to be here and play with these guys and be part of this group, you have to be thankful about that,” Raanta said. “Whatever the decision would be, you still have to work hard. If somebody’s going to Rockford or staying up here, you can’t stop working.

“Of course, it would be a little frustrating to go down like that. The goal is to stay here, and I’m happy to be here still. I wasn’t thinking too much about that still. I was just trying to do my thing and play good whenever I got the games and show everybody I could do this. That was my key thing. It worked out pretty good, so, of course, that’s a good thing.”

Quenneville debated between Darling and Raanta and ultimately decided to keep the Blackhawks’ goaltending situation as it was before Crawford’s injury. Raanta would remain in the NHL, and Darling, an NHL rookie, would continue to get work with the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL.

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W2W4: Wild at Blackhawks

December, 16, 2014
12/16/14
12:36
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CHICAGO -- Here’s what to watch for when the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild play at the United Center on Tuesday:

• The Blackhawks have won nine of their last 10 games and are on a six-game home winning streak. They lead the Central Division with 43 points and have a 21-9-1 record.

• The Wild haven’t won or lost consecutive games over their last 10 games. They won their last game and will be looking for their first two-game winning streak since winning back-to-back games on Nov. 16 and Nov. 20. The Wild are 16-11-1 with 33 points.

• This will be the first of five games between the Blackhawks and Wild. They last met in the Western Conference semifinals last season. The Blackhawks eliminated the Wild in six games.

• Blackhawks goaltender Antti Raanta will make his second consecutive start. He’s 4-2-0 with a 1.85 goals-against average and .944 save percentage this season. Darcy Kuemper will likely start in net for the Wild. He is 11-9-0 with a 2.45 goals-against average and .906 save percentage this season.

• The Blackhawk will be without defenseman Duncan Keith due to an undisclosed illness. Keith leads the Blackhawks in ice time, and other defensemen will be relied upon against the Wild. Defenseman David Rundblad returns to the lineup after being a healthy scratch the last five games. Defenseman Tim Erixon will play in his second game after being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.

• The Blackhawks’ lines will remain the same again. Their lines during the morning skate were Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa, Kris Versteeg - Brad Richards - Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Patrick Sharp, Daniel Carcillo - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith.

Zach Parise leads the Wild 23 points. Nino Niederreiter leads them with 13 goals. Kane leads the Blackhawks with 14 goals and 29 points.

• The line of Bickell-Shaw-Sharp has had the team’s best possession numbers the last two games. Sharp has been back four games since missing a month with a lower-body injury.

• The Blackhawks rank first in the league with a 90.9 penalty-kill percentage and 18th with a 17.6 power-play percentage. The Blackhawks have killed 28 of their last 30 penalties and have scored a power-play goal in two of their last 27 opportunities. The Wild are third with an 87.4 penalty-kill percentage and tied for 26th with a 13.0 power-play percentage

Blackhawks' Keith (illness) out against Wild

December, 16, 2014
12/16/14
12:13
PM CT
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith will not play against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday due to an illness, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

Quenneville was unsure what illness, including whether it was the mumps, was keeping Keith out of the team’s lineup. A number of NHL players have been diagnosed with the mumps recently.

“I don’t know what’s wrong,” Quenneville said after the team’s morning skate. “He’s sick. He’s not feeling good.”

Keith, who won the Norris Trophy last season, has six goals, 12 assists and is a plus-10 this season. He averages a team-high 25:53 of ice time.

Defenseman David Rundblad will return to the Blackhawks’ lineup due to Keith’s absence. Rundblad has been a healthy scratch the last five games. He has three assists and is a plus-7 in 13 games this season.

Patrick Sharp likely back next week

December, 4, 2014
12/04/14
2:01
PM CT
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp likely will return from a lower-body injury next week, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said on Thursday.

Sharp has been out since suffering an apparent leg injury against the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 4. He was expected to miss 3-4 weeks. He began practicing with the team again on Tuesday.

“We’re going to count him out for [Friday’s game against the Canadiens],” Quenneville said after practice on Thursday. “Likely, probably next week on the trip.

“We want him to be more than ready. I think whether it’s more contact or he’s comfortable in all areas where he feels that strength underneath him. The pushing and the shoving in the tight areas is what we’re looking at. And we have time, so let’s make sure, like I said, he’s more than ready.”

Sharp has three goals and six assists in 13 games this season. He led the Blackhawks with 34 goals and 78 points last season.

Blackhawks defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith and Johnny Oduya did not participate in the team's 20-minute practice on Thursday because they were resting, Quenneville said.

Rapid Reaction: Blackhawks 4, Ducks 1

November, 28, 2014
11/28/14
5:43
PM CT
Arritt By Dan Arritt
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Friday afternoon.

How it happened: The Blackhawks outshot the Ducks 11-1 while building a 2-0 lead the first 13:30 of the opening period. Anaheim called timeout after the second goal and the Ducks must have listened because they scored minutes later and outshot the Blackhawks 5-0 over the remainder of the period. Chicago ended up going 13:27 without a shot on goal, which included a two-minute power play, before Patrick Kane's second-period goal off a spectacular no-look backhand feed from Kris Versteeg reinstated the two-goal lead.

What it means: The Blackhawks are guaranteed a winning record on their six-game circus road trip with one game remaining Saturday night at the Los Angeles Kings. So far, Chicago has won four of five on its second-longest road trip of the season, and Friday’s victory moved the Blackhawks within three points of the idle Nashville Predators for the top spot in the Central Division.

Player of the game: Duncan Keith delivered one of the prettier assists you’ll see this weekend. Keith had a clear path to the net after receiving a backhand pass from Daniel Carcillo early in the first period, but Keith but spotted Andrew Shaw camped out near the opposite post and fed a perfect pass onto his stick, catching Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen and just about everyone else on the ice by surprise. Shaw made easy redirect in the net for a 2-0 lead and his second goal in two games. Keith finished a plus-3, his best rating this month.

Stat of the game: Marian Hossa still can’t buy a goal. The 17-year veteran came into Friday’s game with three goals on 70 shots on goal this season, including nine unrewarded attempts in Wednesday’s victory against the Colorado Avalanche. He looked to have a sure goal against the Ducks as the puck came to him while he waited just to the left of the crease with Andersen well out of position. Hossa had 90 percent of the net uncovered even as Andersen shot his outstretched left arm across the crease, but Hossa shot the puck into Andersen’s wrist. After the whistle, Hossa threw his stick in the air out of frustration and trudged back to the bench empty-handed again. Hossa, who came in having scored on 12.6 percent of his shots in his career, finished with three shots on goal to drop his season success rate to 4.1 percent.

What’s next: The Blackhawks will try to finish their road trip with a 5-1 mark as they take on the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings on Saturday night at Staples Center.

Rapid Reaction: Canucks 4, Hawks 1

November, 23, 2014
11/23/14
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.

Blackhawks' 20-game season review

November, 23, 2014
11/23/14
1:46
PM CT
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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.

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Tired? Duncan Keith can 'play all day'

October, 14, 2014
10/14/14
1:56
PM CT
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CHICAGO -- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville rarely worries about playing defenseman Duncan Keith too many minutes.

Keith just has one of those unique bodies, as Quenneville explained it.

[+] EnlargeKeith
Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY SportsDuncan Keith has led the Blackhawks in ice time every season since 2005-06.
"Certain guys' bodies, they can skate all day and they can play all night," Quenneville said after practice Tuesday. "So it's a situation with him, it doesn't really tax him as much as maybe certain players. He's efficient in his movements, and he's got one those bodies that he can play all day."

Relative to other NHL defensemen, Keith has been skating all day this season. He is averaging an NHL-high 28:33 through two games. Arizona Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle (27:38) and Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson (27:11) are the only other players to average more than 27 minutes this season.

Keith has always played a lot of minutes for the Blackhawks, but his recent workload is even more than usual. His 29:40 of ice time in the season opener was the most minutes he has played in a regular-season game since playing 30:30 against the Coyotes on April 20, 2013. His 27:25 of ice time Saturday was the most he had played in a regular-season regulation game since March 9, 2012.

Quenneville has given Keith extra ice time early in the season for several reasons. The Blackhawks have been without Michal Rozsival and have had to play two young defensemen in David Rundblad and Trevor van Riemsdyk, and their early schedule has been spread out.

"He loves ice time," Quenneville said of Keith. "Our schedule's part of that decision, and Rozy being out's part of it as well. We've been trying some different pairs as well, going through that process. And I think that's where in the games, first game obviously was overtime and the game was on the line from start to finish. Last game, we did play [him] some big minutes as well, but it was on a need basis. But I don't see those minutes being that high throughout the season."

Keith didn't even notice he was playing more minutes.

"I don't pay attention, to be honest with you; just play the game," he said. "Got a lot of time here to rest. It's only Game 2. We're good."

Keith has led the Blackhawks in ice time every season since his rookie season in 2005-06. He has played 17,410 minutes and averaged 25:18 a game over his career. He averaged a career-high 26:54 during the 2011-12 season.

He doesn't believe playing so many minutes is anything special. He simply views it as his job.

"Yeah, I've done it before," Keith said. "I played 35 minutes in games and played 40 minutes in playoff games. It's what I'm here to do, right?"

Keith credited his offseason routine to getting him ready to play those minutes every season. With age -- he turned 31 in July -- he has learned to be smarter and more efficient with his training.

"I try to work my hardest every summer," he said. "I try to get to that point where I'm working my hardest, working smart and doing things that I know are going to prepare me. When you get a little older, you get a little more experience as to what you need to focus on."

Keith said his body does feel different from game to game, but it doesn't come down to how many minutes he plays. It's more about how he had to play during those minutes.

"It just depends so much on the game," Keith said. "Playing 30 minutes in the other team's end the whole game, you're not that tired. If you play 22 minutes in your own end, you are. Every game's different. Stats can be misleading because you never know how hard the minutes are, how much you were sharing in your own end, things like that."

Bowman: Cap issue will play itself out soon

September, 18, 2014
9/18/14
5:24
PM CT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman reiterated Thursday he’s confident the Blackhawks will get under the salary cap before the start of the regular season.

The Blackhawks are around $1.3 million over the $69 million cap and would have to shed more cap payroll if they wanted to include Teuvo Teravainen or any of their other prospects on the NHL roster.

Bowman believed the Blackhawks would be able to locate a trade partner in the coming weeks.

“I think leading into training camp most guys want to get going,” Bowman said Thursday before the Blackhawks open training camp at Notre Dame. “Like I said, everyone sort of has a plan that they like how things go. Then a week from now, your plan might have to be changed because players you expected to do something [don’t do something.]

“A lot of teams have some high hopes for some of the young players and then you get them in games and you realize, well, they’re a young player, they’re not going to be able to do what I thought they might. It’s a bit of a waiting game at this point. We’ve had a lot of discussions over the last weeks or months, but until guys get on the ice not a lot changes from July until now. I think we’ll see that play itself out over the next couple weeks here.”

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Hawks storylines (No. 8): Aging players

September, 16, 2014
9/16/14
11:06
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ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers counts down the days to the opening of Blackhawks training camp on Sept. 19 with a look at 20 storylines facing the team this season.

Age appeared to catch up with Michal Handzus and Michal Rozsival last season.

Rozsival
Hossa
Both had played roles in the Chicago Blackhawks' run to the Stanley Cup during the 2013 playoffs, and neither could return to that form in the 2014 playoffs. Handzus was demoted to the fourth line, and Rozsival was a healthy scratch for two playoff games last season.

The Blackhawks have six players in their 30s heading into the 2014-15 season.

Rozsival likely will be one player the Blackhawks watch closely again this season. He turned 36 on Sept. 3 and has been part of a defenseman rotation the past two seasons. He played in 27 of 48 regular season games in 2013 and in 42 of 82 games last season.

Marian Hossa, who will turn 36 in January, is the next oldest Blackhawk. He returned from a back injury suffered in the 2013 Stanley Cup finals to play in 72 regular season games last season. He proved last season to again be one of the NHL's top two-way forwards. He has suffered a variety of injuries since turning 30, so the Blackhawks always will have to be concerned at some level about him, but last season was a good sign for the near future.

Brad Richards, 34, has been slowed down in recent years, but showed last season he still has something left in the tank. He likely won't be at a 90-point level again, but he is still capable of contributing offensively at even strength and on the power play. He had 20 goals and 51 points and proved durable, playing in a total of 107 games, including the playoffs.

Johnny Oduya, who will turn 33 in October, is again expected to be paired with Niklas Hjalmarsson and they likely again will receive the toughest defensive assignments.

Patrick Sharp, who will be 33 in December, hasn't allowed his game to be hampered by age. He scored 34 goals and recorded a career-high 78 points last season. He had the most points among all of the league's players 30 or older. He also finished first in the Blackhawks' fitness testing during training camp last season.

Duncan Keith, who turned 31 in July, is also still playing at a high level. He was voted the Norris Trophy winner after continuing to lead the Blackhawks defenseman in points and ice time.

Hawks storylines (No. 15): Numbers game

September, 11, 2014
9/11/14
10:10
AM CT
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ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers counts down the days to the opening of Blackhawks training camp on Sept. 19 with a look at 20 storylines facing the team this season.

Here are some numbers to keep in mind as the season unfolds for the Blackhawks (all statistics were found on stats.hockeyanalysis.com or behindthenet.ca):

Kane's production with teammates


Nearly every center who found his way onto the Blackhawks roster last season got a chance to skate with Patrick Kane. Some had more success than others. Andrew Shaw clicked with Kane, and Kane had seven goals, seven assists and a 59.7 Corsi percentage during 197:05 of 5-on-5 ice time with Shaw. On the other hand, Kane struggled with Michal Handzus with one goal, seven assists and a 50.9 Corsi percentage while on the ice 310:16 with the veteran center. Kane's line to start this season is expected to include Brandon Saad and Brad Richards. Kane had seven goals, nine assists and a 56.3 Corsi percentage with Saad.

Puck possession


The Blackhawks have been a dominant puck-possession team over the past five seasons. They have ranked in the league's top-6 in Corsi percentage in 5-on-5 situations throughout that span. They were second with a 55.5 percentage last season, their highest percentage since being at 56.5 percent during the 2009-10 season.

Morin's potential

Jeremy Morin played in just 24 games last season, so his sample size isn't that large. But in that short span, he was statistically impressive. Morin led the Blackhawks with an average of 12.22 shots per 60 minutes, 1.421 goals per 60 minutes and 3.13 points per 60 minutes. If Morin gets some consistent ice time and a larger role this season, which is something Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman and coach Joel Quenneville have mentioned, he may just be headed toward a breakout offensive season.

Defensive responsibility


One of the main reasons defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are often able to utilize their offensive abilities is because defensemen Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson are given more of the defensive load. Oduya and Hjalmarsson started less in the offensive zone than any of the Blackhawks' defensemen last year. Oduya started 48.6 percent in the offensive zone and Hjalmarsson was at 48.3 percent. To compare, Keith started 56.4 percent in the offensive zone and Seabrook was at 56.3, and defensemen Nick Leddy, Michal Rozsival and Sheldon Brookbank all started more than 60 percent of the time in the offensive zone.

Goals against


The Blackhawks held opponents to just 1.77 goals per 60 minutes in 5-on-5 situations during the 2013 season, best in the league. But aside from that season the Blackhawks have been an average defense team in recent years. They ranked 26th in the NHL with a 2.52 goals-against average in 2010-11 season, 26th with a 2.49 goals-against average in the 2011-12 season and were 15th with a 2.23 goals-against average last season.

Toews & Sharp

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp made each other better players last season. They had a 59.7 Corsi percentage in their 777.32 of ice time together. When apart, Toews dropped to a 57.5 Corsi percentage and Sharp dropped to 52.9. There's a good chance Sharp, Toews and Marian Hossa could be together on the top line again this season.

Fourth-line usage

Brandon Bollig, Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith, the trio which was often the Blackhawks' fourth line last season, all ranked among the bottom seven players in the league in offensive zone start percentage. Bollig started in the offensive zone 11.4 percent, Kruger 13.4 percent and Smith 16.9. It will be interesting to see whether Quenneville uses his fourth line in such a defensive manner again. Kruger was on the fourth line the season before and saw more offensive zone starts. He was at 30.4 percent during the 2013 season.

Four Blackhawks highly rated in NHL 15

August, 8, 2014
8/08/14
5:30
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
EA Sports released its top five players at each position throughout this past week for its upcoming NHL 15 release, and the Chicago Blackhawks' talent was again respected by the game’s makers.

Jonathan Toews tied with Pavel Datsyuk and Steven Stamkos for the second-highest-ranked center. All three players received a 93 overall rating and were just behind Sidney Crosby and his 96 rating.

EA Sports wrote of Toews, “Although the nickname Captain Serious holds up for Jonathan Toews, Mr. Everything is a better descriptor of what he actually brings to the ice every night. Whether it’s (95) rated Faceoffs, (93) Puck Control, or (89) Speed, Acceleration, and Agility – he really does do it all.”

Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa both landed in the game’s top-5 ratings for right wingers. Hossa was second with a 91 overall rating, and Kane was fourth with an 89 overall rating.

“Hossa might not have the same star power as the other players on this list, but make no mistake, he is arguably the best all-round right winger in the game,” EA Sports’ description included. “With five-star ratings in Puck Skills, Senses, Skating, and Defense – Hossa does it all.”

Kane’s offensive game was also shown some love.

“Kane possesses one of the highest skill sets in the entire league with five star Puck Skills, Shooting, Skating, and Senses,” the description included. “His Puck Skills are elite with (94) Passing and Puck Control, (95) Hand-Eye, and (96) Deking. The only thing lacking in his game is Physical ability – coming in at only two and a half stars.”

Duncan Keith finished second with a 92 overall rating behind Shea Weber's 93 rating among the game’s defenseman ratings.

“Last year’s Norris Trophy winner lacks that huge physical element to his game, but makes up for it with 5 star Puck Skills, Senses, Skating and Defense attributes,” the game’s description included.

The Blackhawks had six players in the game’s top-50 ratings last year, with Toews (92 rating) at No. 7, Keith (90) at No. 12, Hossa (89) at No. 24, Brent Seabrook (89) at No. 31, Kane (88) at No. 35 and Patrick Sharp (88) at No. 45.

NHL 15 will be released on Sept. 9.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Kane
PTS GOALS AST +/-
51 22 29 9
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 22
AssistsP. Kane 29
+/-J. Toews 16
GAAC. Crawford 2.26