Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Kane

Points product of consistent play for Kane

January, 27, 2015
Jan 27
10:38
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Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane tries not to pay attention to how many points he has and where he is among the league’s leaders.

He’s been around long enough to know his play has a tendency to get off track when his mind is wandering to those areas. What’s best for him and his statistics is concentrating on the task at hand.

Blackhawks
Cal Sport Media/AP ImagesPatrick Kane entered the All-Star Game break seventh in the league with 22 goals and tied for third with 51 points.
“I’ve kind of learned from experience, especially in this league, if you get into a situation where you start thinking about points and numbers and where you are as far as stats and points go, you’re only going to get yourself in trouble,” said Kane, who is in his eighth season. “I’ve tried to just focus on playing good, creating chances and just worrying about the next game on hand and hopefully that stuff takes care of itself.”

That stuff has been taking care of itself for Kane this season. He entered the NHL All-Star Game break seventh in the league with 22 goals, tied for third with 51 points and is on pace to break his career-high totals of 30 goals and 88 points, which were both set in the 2009-10 season. That season and the shortened 2012-13 season were the two times he finished in the top 10 in points.

Kane may not follow his point production game by game during a season, but he’s fully aware of how he ends up. His expectation is at least a point a game, and he would like to surpass his career-high marks.

“I think the year after [the 2009-10 season] I was at a point a game and the year after that I dropped down a little bit when I was playing center, and the lockout season my numbers were pretty good,” Kane said. “Last year, I was up there and just kind of got injured at the end of the year. The most important thing is probably staying healthy for a full 82 games. The big thing for having a good season is really not to have any slumps and be consistent. I always feel like I can get back up to those numbers.”

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Blackhawks at the midway point

January, 9, 2015
Jan 9
1:09
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BlackhawksCal Sport Media/AP ImagesPatrick Kane has been on a tear since mid-November with 34 points in his last 24 games.
The Chicago Blackhawks have to like where they are halfway through the season. There’s certainly been more good than bad at this point. Here’s a look at what’s going right for the Blackhawks and what they’d still like to improve on before entering the playoffs:

Looking back on the first half

1. The Blackhawks have put themselves in position to make a run at the Central Division title and even the Presidents’ Trophy with a 27-12-2 record through 41 games. They’re tied for third in the NHL with 56 points and are second in the Central behind the Nashville Predators, who have 58 points in 40 games. The Blackhawks have been solid in the Central so far with an 11-5-0 record after going just 13-13-3 in the division last season. They have 13 division games remaining. The division will likely come down to the Blackhawks, Predators and St. Louis Blues. The Blackhawks face the Blues three more times, including twice in the final week of the regular season. The Blackhawks have no remaining games against the Predators.

2. Patrick Kane has been on a tear since mid-November. After having just 11 points through 17 games, he has 34 points over the last 24 games. He’s tied for third in the league with 45 points and is seventh with 20 goals. It’s no coincidence his game took off after joining Brad Richards and Kris Versteeg on a line Nov. 16. Having a consistent and offensive second-line center has done wonders for Kane. He and Richards have created a bond on and off the ice. Kane is on pace to break his career-highs of 30 goals and 88 points, which both came in the 2009-2010 season. He had 53 points midway through the 2013-14 season, but his play slowed down and he also had a late-season injury.

[+] EnlargeCrawford
Bill Smith/Getty ImagesCorey Crawford looks like he's healthy and near the top of his game.
3. Corey Crawford is near the top of his game. His numbers were better during the 2012-13 season, but he shared games with Ray Emery for much of that. When he’s been healthy, he’s been getting the net nearly every game this season. He’s 16-8-2 with a 2.19 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. He’s fifth in goals-against average and ninth in save percentage (minimum 15 games). He had a 2.47 goals-against average and .907 save percentage halfway through last season. It also appears as if he’s shaking off the rust from his latest injury. He’s had 64 saves on 68 shots over the last two games.

4. The Blackhawks have gotten back to being the league’s top defensive team. They struggled to keep the puck out of their net last season. They were 15th in the league with a 2.68 goals-against average midway through last season and finished 12th with a 2.58 average. They lead the league now with a 2.15 goals-against average. A lot of that is due to the play of Crawford, Antti Raanta and Scott Darling. The trio has 1,115 saves on 1,200 shots for a .929 save percentage. Possession has also helped the Blackhawks. They’re third in league with a 54.4 Corsi percentage in 5-on-5 situations. Their penalty kill has also been keeping goals out. They lead the league with a 89.7 penalty-kill percentage. They had a 76.0 percentage after 41 games last season.

5. The Blackhawks are among the league’s deepest teams again. The Blackhawks and Blues are the only teams in the league with nine players with 20-plus points. Brandon Saad is on pace to set a career-high in points. Brent Seabrook has already matched his goal total from last season and needs three more goals to set a career high. Patrick Sharp has found his groove after an early-season injury. Kris Versteeg has dealt with a couple of injuries, but he’s been back to form when healthy. Jonathan Toews has been his usual self. Altogether, the Blackhawks are sixth in the league with a 3.00 goals-for average. That could still go up a bit considering they’re 5-on-5 shooting percentage is still lower than usual.

Looking ahead to the second half

1. The Blackhawks haven’t looked like their usual selves over the last few weeks. They’re still finding ways to pick up points, but they’ll want to avoid what happened in the second half last season. The Blackhawks actually had more points through 41 games last season. They were 27-7-7 with 61 points midway through last season and then broke down throughout the second half. They went 19-14-8 over the final 41 games. Their play picked up in the playoffs, but that’s not something you want rely on happening every year.

[+] EnlargeJoel Quenneville
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesJoel Quenneville still has some decisions to make on his fourth line.
2. Injuries have forced Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville to toy with his lineup again, but he’ll want to figure out in the coming months what works best and who can be depended on in the playoffs, especially on that fourth line. The Blackhawks had a consistent fourth line of Brandon Bollig, Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith throughout the regular season last season. The line was solid and dependable. But when the playoffs came, Quenneville began tinkering with his lineup because Michal Handzus wasn’t getting it done on the second line. The fourth line was included in those changes, and he basically lost all faith in the players on the fourth line. The Blackhawks became a three-line team, and their play declined due to it. One of Quenneville’s biggest questions will have to be whether he trusts Daniel Carcillo in tight games. Carcillo’s play has varied this season. He was back in the lineup Thursday. It could be between him and Joakim Nordstrom to be a fourth-line winger in the playoffs.

3. The Blackhawks are finally starting to get some consistent play out of their third defenseman pairing. David Rundblad has been better and has noticeably been more confident with the puck. Michal Rozsival will still have the occasional turnover, but he’s held his own considering it’s been a few seasons since he’s been an everyday player. Going forward, the Blackhawks should get Trevor van Riemsdyk back into the lineup in a few months. Seabrook, Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson have been good most of the season. The Blackhawks would like Johnny Oduya to be more consistent leading into the playoffs. Whether Quenneville will trust Rozsival, van Riemsdyk or Rundblad in the playoffs is yet to be seen. Quenneville’s patience for defensemen diminishes in the playoffs. Nick Leddyk knows all about that.

4. The Blackhawks would love to get Marian Hossa and some of their depth players contributing more. Hossa’s scoring and shooting percentage numbers are down. Bryan Bickell has shown some life lately with four goals over the last five games, but he still has 16 points in 41 games. Andrew Shaw has three points since Dec. 1. Smith and Kruger had better numbers last season.

5. The Blackhawks’ power play has been up and down. It’s been better lately, but they’re still 15th in the league with a 19.0 percentage. It was actually better last season as they finished tied for ninth in the league with a 19.5 percentage. The Blackhawks did a nice job of getting the puck to the net and creating off that for a power-play goal on Thursday. Kane has a team-high 18 power-play points. He and Sharp each have six power-play goals.

Kane focused on reversing January trend

January, 6, 2015
Jan 6
1:50
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Patrick KaneBill Smith/NHLI/Getty ImagesPatrick Kane has two points in two games this month, including this goal against the Stars.


CHICAGO -- January is often the most brutal month outdoors in Chicago.

For Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane, January also has rarely been kind to him indoors.

Kane has played in six 82-game seasons prior to this season, and January has often been the month when his numbers have dipped. He's registered 50 points in 79 games in January over those six seasons.

Kane hasn’t experienced those type of slumps in other months. His numbers have been pretty steady otherwise in the regular season. Over those six full seasons, he had 76 points in 71 games in October, 88 points in 80 games in November, 77 points in 70 games in December, 55 points in 62 games in February, 68 points in 81 games in March and 27 points in 25 games in April.

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Hawks honored to be voted into All-Star Game

January, 4, 2015
Jan 4
2:02
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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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Patrick Kane, Brad Richards creating bond on and off the ice

December, 31, 2014
12/31/14
6:52
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WASHINGTON -- Patrick Kane and Brad Richards have to drive just over 20 miles from where they live in the Trump International Hotel and Tower to where the Chicago Blackhawks fly out of town at O'Hare International Airport.

In Chicago traffic, those 20 miles can sometimes take an hour or more. It's on those lengthy road trips that the first-year Chicago Blackhawks teammates have developed a friendship and chemistry that they have come to enjoy on and off the ice.

[+] EnlargePatrick Kane and Brad Richards
Icon Sportswire/AP ImagesAfter being paired in November, Patrick Kane and Brad Richards have been part of the Blackhawks' most consistent line this season.
"It's been good," Kane said Wednesday at Nationals Park. "It's good to have company. He's such a good guy. Myself being a fan of the game of hockey, he's just as much of a fan as I am. He knows a lot about the history of the game. He's got a lot of good stories about when he was younger and playing with guys like Mario Lemieux and different things like that. A lot of cool things talking to Brad about. Just shows his love for the game. I've really enjoyed it."

The respect is mutual. Joining a new team isn't always easy, and Kane helped make Richards' transition a smooth one after Richards signed with the Blackhawks in July. Kane has often been Richards' tour guide in Chicago.

"I didn't know him at all, nothing hardly," Richards said. "He's been a good chauffeur around Chicago for me, getting me to the airports and back. He's just been a good teammate, a good friend to welcome me right away and offer so many things off the ice to help. It makes you feel like you're part of it. Playing together, I think we've grown a lot to get to know each other, which helps on the ice."

The ice part with Kane was what attracted Richards to Chicago. After Richards was bought out by the New York Rangers after last season, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman approached him about playing center alongside Kane.

Signing with the Blackhawks meant fewer years and less money than Richards probably would have gotten elsewhere, but he was drawn to the idea of joining his offensive skills with Kane's ability.

"That was my goal when Stan called in the summer," Richards said. "It was a tempting idea to get a chance to do that. You want to have a chance. You know that might not be made in stone right away or perfect right away, but an opportunity to do it. I think I'm a better player obviously when you get to play with a guy like that. Hopefully I can help him."

Kane and Richards had to wait for that opportunity to play together in the regular season. After playing alongside each other for much of the preseason, they were separated to begin the regular season. It wasn't until the team's 18th game of the season that Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville chose to begin a game with Kane and Richards on the same line.

Quenneville hasn't kept them apart since. Aside from the three games Richards missed to injury, Kane and Richards have been on the same line every game since first playing together on Nov. 18. Kris Versteeg has been the other forward on that line throughout that span. As a trio, they have been the Blackhawks' most consistent line over the past two months.

Kane's game has flourished since he was put together with Richards and Versteeg. Kane had five goals and six assists through 17 games. In the past 20 games, he has 13 goals and 16 assists.

Kane can especially appreciate having a consistent second-line center after going through an assortment of them the previous three seasons and never really getting into a groove with any of them.

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Blackhawks' top 10 goals of 2014

December, 31, 2014
12/31/14
12:09
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Jonathan Toews, Marc-Andre FleuryNoah Graham/NHLI/Getty ImagesJonathan Toews had a big game in the Blackhawks' win over the Penguins at Soldier Field on March 1.


Here are the top 10 goals the Chicago Blackhawks scored in 2014, judged by skill level:

10. Bryan Bickell, vs. San Jose Sharks, 15:18 in third period, Nov. 9: Bickell used his body the whole time to create this goal. He took the puck from behind the net on the right side and utilized his body to keep a defenseman from it. He skated to the lower left circle, still shielding an opponent, and quick spun to his left and placed the puck over the right shoulder of Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi.

9. Patrick Kane, vs. St. Louis Blues, 5:19 of third period, Dec. 3: Versteeg gets credit for a quality pass as well here. He lifted the puck into the air from the defensive zone and connected with Kane in the neutral zone. Kane quickly dragged the puck away from defenseman Barret Jackman and took off. Kane used his body to block Jackman from the puck as he got past him to his right. Kane pushed the puck back to his left as he approached the net and then slid it into the right corner as the goaltender was moving left.

8. Kris Versteeg, vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, 19:59 of first period, Dec. 21: Versteeg had the buzzer-beater of the season. A pass from Patrick Kane was just to Versteeg’s left, and Versteeg used his left skate to kick the puck to the right. He quickly got the puck onto his stick and moved it back to avoid one defenseman. He continued to his right in the slot and shot the puck into the top right corner of the net with 0.4 seconds remaining.

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Year in review: Best and worst of 2014

December, 30, 2014
12/30/14
2:11
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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.

By the numbers: Faceoff percentage up for Hawks

December, 25, 2014
12/25/14
3:10
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Here’s a look at the Chicago Blackhawks by the numbers:

• The Blackhawks’ best faceoff percentage in the last 10 years was at 52.4 percent during the 2009-10 season. The Blackhawks are currently at 52.9 percent. Jonathan Toews again is a major reason for their success as he has a 57.0 winning percentage (418 of 733), but the Blackhawks are getting consistency throughout their lineup. Andrew Shaw has gone from having a 43.3 percentage last season to a 51.0 percentage (174 of 341) this season. The team’s other main faceoff takers are Marcus Kruger (57.8 percent, 164 of 284), Ben Smith (51 percent, 130 of 258) and Brad Richards (48.5 percent, 163 of 336).

• The Blackhawks have to be pleased with a 23-10-2 record and 48 points at the Christmas break, but they have had better records after 35 games in recent years. The Blackhawks were 23-7-5 with 51 points after 35 games last season and 27-5-3 with 57 points in the 2013 season. They also had 48 points with a 22-9-4 record during the 2011-12 season. The only time they had less than 40 points after 35 games in the last eight seasons came in 2010-11 when they had an 18-14-3 record with 39 points.

• The Central Division continues to be full of tough opponents. The Blackhawks are 7-4-0 in the division so far. The Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues (7-4-0), Winnipeg Jets (6-3-2) and Minnesota Wild (6-1-2) have all accumulated 14 division points so far. The Nashville Predators lead the way with 19 points and a 9-3-1 division record. The Blackhawks were 13-13-2 in the Central last season.

Patrick Kane will be hoping for a better January than usual. It’s the one month that has normally troubled him throughout his career. He has 58 points in 86 career games in January. He has often had quality months leading up to January. He’s had 104 points in 94 games in November and 85 points in 81 games in December. Last season, he had 10 points in November, 16 points in Decembers and five points in January.

• Kane leads the NHL with five game-winning goals. He’s never had more than six game-winning goals in a season. He’s set that mark twice in his career. He is also on pace for 37 goals this season. His career high is 30, which came in the 2009-10 season.

Patrick Sharp leads the Blackhawks with a 59.3 Corsi percentage (minimum 20 games). He had a career-high 59.5 Corsi percentage in the 2009-10 season. Marian Hossa (57.8 percent), Duncan Keith (57.7), Toews (57.7) and Bryan Bickell (56.4) follow Sharp in Corsi percentage in 5-on-5 situations.

• The Blackhawks allowed a power-play goal on Tuesday, but they continue to hold a sizable lead for the league’s top penalty-kill percentage. They are 88-of-97 for a 90.7 percentage. The Detroit Red Wings are second at 87.9 percent.

• One element that has helped the Blackhawks’ penalty kill has been the number of penalties they have taken. The Blackhawks rank second in the NHL at 7.9 penalty minutes a game. They ranked third last season with an 8.5 average per game. Only once this December have they given an opponent more than three power plays in a game. Daniel Carcillo and Shaw share the team lead for 28 penalty minutes. Toews and Niklas Hjalmarsson are tied for a team-high 10 minor penalties. Toews had 12 minor penalties in 76 games last season.

• The Blackhawks lead the league with a .929 team save percentage (930 saves on 1,001 shots). The Predators are second at .926. The Blackhawks were 25th with a .905 save percentage last season, second with a .923 save percentage in 2013, 26th with a .901 save percentage in 2011-12, 18th with a .907 save percentage in 2010-11 and tied for 24th with a .901 percentage in 2009-10.

• Hossa ranks seventh in the league with 30 takeaways. He hasn’t finished out of the top 10 in takeaways since the 2010-11 season. Hjalmarsson is tied for second among defensemen with 26 takeaways.

David Rundblad might not have earned Joel Quenneville’s complete trust yet, but his numbers indicate the Blackhawks aren't allowing a lot of goals when he's on the ice. He’s been on the ice for 10 goals for and two goals against in 5-on-5 play this season. His 83.3 goals-for percentage is first on the team (minimum 15 games). Richards (74.2 percent), Kris Versteeg (72.2), Carcillo (66.7) and Keith (63.8) fall behind Rundblad in that category.

Rapid Reaction: Blackhawks 5, Wild 3

December, 16, 2014
12/16/14
10:25
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CHICAGO -- Here's a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild at the United Center on Tuesday.

How it happened: The Blackhawks' Patrick Kane scored the game-winning goal on a power play with 4:28 remaining in the third period when his shot bounced off Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin's skate and traveled into the net. Chicago built a 3-1 lead after outscoring Minnesota 3-0 in the second period, but the Wild fought back and tied the game with consecutive goals in the third period. Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews accounted for the Blackhawks' first three goals. Ben Smith added an empty-net goal in the game's final minute. Thomas Vanek, Nino Niederreiter and Marco Scandella provided the Wild their goals. Chicago goaltender Antti Raanta stopped 26 of 29 shots in the win. Niklas Backstrom had 33 saves. The Blackhawks killed off all three of the Wild's power plays.

What it means: The Blackhawks extended their home winning streak to seven games. They have won 10 of their past 11 games and improved to 22-9-1, with a division-leading 45 points. Chicago also handed the Wild their first regulation loss in the Central Division this season. The Wild were 6-0-1 in the division heading into Tuesday night's game. The Wild fell to 19-12-1 on the season.

With the Blackhawks' No. 2 goaltender role still on the line, Raanta was up for the challenge again. He was solid throughout the night as Chicago improved to 7-1-0 since Corey Crawford's injury. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville will have a difficult decision between Raanta and Scott Darling for Crawford's backup.

Player of the game: Toews had his second consecutive multi-point game. He had two primary assists in the Blackhawks' win over the Calgary Flames on Sunday. He has 12 goals and 16 assists in 32 games this season.

Stat of the game: The Blackhawks outshot the Wild 21-8 in the second period.

What's next: The Blackhawks don't play again until Saturday when they travel to face the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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

Hawks thoughts: Plenty to discuss following hit on Toews

December, 12, 2014
12/12/14
11:06
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Here are some thoughts on the Chicago Blackhawks after their 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins on Thursday:

1. The Bruins’ Dennis Seidenberg's hit on the Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews and Toews’ subsequent injury overshadowed everything else that happened in this game. The hit was undoubtedly a bad one. There wasn't intent by Seidenberg and it's difficult to let up in that situation, but Seidenberg needed to do just that. Safety has to trump everything with a player approaching the boards as Toews was. According to a league source, the NHL Department of Player Safety "looked long and hard" at the play and decided Seidenberg didn't require a disciplinary hearing. The source said the boarding hit didn't meet any of the required criteria for discipline -- lengthy tracking by the hitter, hitter only seeing the opponent's numbers for a long time and finishing with force through the hit. Bruins coach Claude Julien’s comment about players needing to be educated on how to protect themselves better in such situations seemed like the wrong time to address that.

It does appear Toews is going to be okay. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Toews will be re-examined on Friday, but he thought Toews would be all right. The Blackhawks are not practicing Friday, so there won’t be an official update until Saturday.

Toews’ possible injury also brings into question the NHL’s medical protocol for possible head injuries. The team trainer went to check on Toews on the ice, but it’s unrealistic for a full examination to take place at that time. Toews remained on the ice after being looked at and took part in a power play. Quenneville said it was up to the whole staff to decide whether Toews was fine to be on the ice. Toews was whistled for a hooking call shortly later and went to the locker room after his penalty was served. He didn’t return to the game. I get it’s a fast game and hockey players will play through a lot, but a player should be forced to leave the game to undergo a more thorough examination when it’s head-related.

Finally, the Blackhawks took some criticism again for not retaliating. Blackhawks analysts Steve Konroyd and Jamal Mayers said on CSN Chicago they thought the team didn’t do enough against Seidenberg. The Blackhawks also dealt with some criticism when they didn’t go after Brooks Orpik after Toews was injured by a check last season. Orpik's hit was legal, and Toews had no issue with it. It'll be interesting to see if this one has legs like the discussion over the Opik hit had. It could depend on how Toews is and what he says.

2. Ben Smith was the player of the game. He created the first goal by battling for a puck behind the net and setting up Klas Dahlbeck. Smith scored the second one. He then stepped in and filled Toews’ role. To go from fourth-line right wing to first-line center, that says something about one's versatility. He was also again effective on the penalty kill and was also put back on the fourth line in the game’s final minutes to help ensure the victory.

3. Blackhawks goaltender Scott Darling continued the outstanding start to his career and again found a way to limit a team to two goals. He has a 1.80 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in six games this season. Antti Raanta actually has a higher save percentage at .942 in five starts, but Quenneville has been favoring Darling. It likely means Raanta gets sent to the AHL when Corey Crawford returns.

4. The Blackhawks still don’t have a consistent third defenseman pairing. Quenneville limited Dahlbeck to 9:30 of ice time and just 2:55 in the third period. Michal Rozsival played 15:19, including 6:40 in the third period, but it wasn’t a great game for him. He was outmuscled for the puck a few times, had a turnover behind the net lead to a near goal in the first period and was on the ice for both of the Bruins’ goals. Trevor van Riemsdyk isn’t coming back for a long time, so this will be something to continue to keep an eye on. David Rundblad was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game on Thursday and now has been a healthy scratch in 15 games this season.

5. The Blackhawks are the first team to 20 wins this season and are on an eight-game winning streak, but just think where they would be if they could get their power play going. They rank 19th in the league with a 17.2 power-play percentage. They were empty on four power-play opportunities against the Bruins and have scored one goal in their last 24 power plays. The Blackhawks especially struggled in their 5-on-3 chances on Thursday. Their first one lasted 1:08, and they had 18 successful passes in the offensive zone and attempted just one shot, which was on goal. The second was for 47 seconds, and they put together five passes in the offensive zone and attempted one shot, which wasn’t on net. They had two shots on goal in total on their four power plays. On the other hand, Brad Marchand nearly scored a short-handed goal against the Blackhawks’ power play.

6. Although Patrick Kane had a slow start, he's come around and really hasn't had any substantial droughts this season. He hasn't gone more than two games without a point. He snapped a two-game points slump Thursday with a goal. He’s just under a point a game for the season. He has 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists) in 29 games.

Five statistical reasons why the Hawks are soaring

December, 10, 2014
12/10/14
4:10
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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The Chicago Blackhawks are on a seven-game winning streak and are near the top of the league with a 19-8-1 record for many reasons. Here are five areas where they have statistically improved from last season:

1. Overtimes/shootout record: The Blackhawks were among the worst teams with a 7-15 record in overtimes and shootouts last season. They’re off to a 5-1 record in those games this season. The Blackhawks, New York Islanders and Boston Bruins are the only teams to be unbeaten in shootouts this season. The fact that Patrick Kane has three shootout goals this season and had all of one last season has helped.

2. One-goal games: The Blackhawks were 27th in the NHL last season with a .425 winning percentage in one-goal games. They went 17-8-15. They have improved to a .563 winning percentage this season with a 9-6-1 record in one-goal games. They have won the last five games decided by one goal.

3. Division record: The Blackhawks went 13-13-3 in the Central Division last season. The Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars all had better records within the division. The Blackhawks are correcting that this season. They’re 6-3-0 in the division so far. They were 4-4-1 in the division through nine last season.

4. Goals-against average: The Blackhawks were 12th in the league with a 2.58 goals-against average last season. It was well off their 2.02 average from the season before. The Blackhawks are at that 2013 season form again. They’re tied for a league-best 1.96 goals-against average. They have held opponents to two goals or less in 19-of-28 games and have allowed more than three goals in just three games. They allowed four-plus goals 18 times last season.

5. Penalty-kill percentage: The Blackhawks were 18th in the league with a 81.2 penalty-kill percentage through 28 games last season. They’re atop the league with a 91.2 percentage through 28 games this season. They have killed off 44-of-48 power plays since Nov. 1. They have held opponents to zero power-play goals in 21 games. They did that in 47-of-82 games last season.

By the numbers: The circus trip

November, 30, 2014
11/30/14
1:35
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Los Angeles Kings loseJuan Ocampo/Getty ImagesThe Blackhawks capped a 5-1 road trip with a victory over the Kings Saturday.


Here’s a look by the numbers at the Chicago Blackhawks' six-game circus road trip:

• The Blackhawks went 5-1-0 on the trip. They have gone 11-2-0 in the last two years on the circus trip and 27-12-4 since 2007.

Corey Crawford started every game on the trip. He stopped 143 of 154 shots for a .929 save percentage. He allowed two-or-less goals in four of the six games.

Patrick Kane had four goals and nine points on the trip. It matched his point total during last year’s circus trip when he had nine points in seven games. He has four multi-point games this season. He leads the team and is tied for 14th in the NHL with 23 points.

(Read full post)

Hawks thoughts: Kruger, Smith priceless as role players

November, 29, 2014
11/29/14
3:28
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Here are five thoughts on the Chicago Blackhawks leading up to their game against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday:

• 1. Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith have been the ultimate role players. Both take faceoffs and have been effective at the dot. Kruger has won 111-of-194 faceoffs for a 57.2 percentage this season and Smith is 84-of-162 for a 51.8 percentage. They both start in the defensive zone nearly as much as anyone in the NHL and still rarely allow goals. They’re tied for seventh in the league with a 46.2 defensive zone faceoff starting percentage, and both are among the top 35 players in the NHL in the lowest goals-against average per 60 minutes. Smith is tied for 10th at 0.93 goals against per 60 minutes and Kruger is tied for 32nd at 1.23 goals against. Finally, they’re two of the primary reasons why the Blackhawks have the league’s top penalty kill. Smith is first among the team’s forwards with 59:48 of short-handed ice time and Kruger is second at 54:49. The two of them together may only have eight points on the season, but their contributions obviously go well beyond that.

• 2. Plenty of people were skeptical when the Blackhawks signed Daniel Carcillo to a one-year deal just before the season began. It was understandable as Carcillo’s first stint with the Blackhawks was unmemorable. This time around has been different so far. Carcillo has had a positive Corsi percentage in eight of 13 games, including the last five, is a plus-29 Corsi for the season, has been on the ice for more goals for than goals against (4-2) and has been drawing more penalties than taking them (6-2). Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville also isn’t pushing him too much. Carcillo is averaging around nine minutes a game since returning from his lower-body injury. If Carcillo can keep up this up, the Blackhawks have another solid role player.

• 3. Patrick Kane can put the final touches on his best circus trip against the Kings on Saturday. He haa four goals and nine points in the first five games of the trip. His best circus trip came last season when he had five goals and nine points in seven games. Since his rookie season, he’s accumulated 42 points in 42 circus trip games. He’s had six or more points in five of the seven trips.

• 4. Marian Hossa's slump isn’t funny, but it was sort of comical the way he just flipped his stick after having another wonderful chance somehow denied against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday. He just couldn’t believe it. His 40 shots on goal rank him 29th in the league in November, so the opportunities are there. These types of numbers often even out. It is probably just a matter of time before his three goals and his 4.1 shooting percentage on the season turn into the numbers he’s used to producing.

• 5. Didn’t expect Corey Crawford to start all six games of the trip, but that appears to be the case. He will start his 14th consecutive game Saturday. He’s 8-5-0 and has a 2.00 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in his last 13 starts. For those wondering, Crawford once started 27 consecutive games to end the 2010-11 season. The Blackhawks went 16-7-4 during the streak.

Rapid Reaction: Blackhawks 4, Ducks 1

November, 28, 2014
11/28/14
5:43
PM CT
Arritt By Dan Arritt
Special to ESPNChicago.com
Archive
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.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Kane
PTS GOALS AST +/-
53 23 30 9
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 23
AssistsP. Kane 30
+/-D. Rundblad 15
GAAC. Crawford 2.32