Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Sharp

Break makes Hawks' trip a tad unorthodox

December, 27, 2014
Dec 27
4:01
PM CT
By Brent W. New
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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DENVER — As soon as the NHL's cozy holiday break ended, the Chicago Blackhawks raced to Denver and scrambled to get to ready for their game against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.

Since no team was allowed to have contact with their players from Dec. 24-26, per NHL rules, the Hawks flew into the Mile High City on Saturday morning and went directly to the Pepsi Center for a quick practice in preparation for the game’s looming puck-drop (8 p.m. CT).

(How’s that for a start to the second half of the season?)

The oddity of traveling and playing on the same day felt a little like preseason, some of the Hawks’ players said.

“We've all been through it before -- the preseason is like this,” said Patrick Sharp, who had a hat trick exactly one year ago when the Hawks beat the Avalanche 7-2 at the United Center. “It's a little different routine but it's something we've all had to deal with at one point in our career. I remember the game last year. Colorado flew to Chicago, so we're returning the favor. We want to make sure we come out and treat it like another game. These guys are playing really well."

In fact, the Avalanche are starting to play a lot like the team that rallied to win the Central Division last year. They’ve won three in a row and are 4-0-2 since Dec. 11.

The circumstances should favor them as well Saturday.

“We have three nice days off," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "We gave ourselves a nice gift before Christmas -- .500 hockey for the first time of the year. Now let's not look behind, let's look ahead and be ready for Chicago. It will be another good test."

The Avs will start goalie Calvin Pickard, who made 42 saves in a 3-2 loss to the Hawks in Denver a little over a month ago.

It’s not quite Hawks-killer Semyon Varlamov, who stifled and beat Chicago in net all three times the teams met in Denver last year. But Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said it might as well be.

“(Pickard has) played very well,” Quenneville said. “He sees a lot of pucks. He’s big, square -- kind of reminded me the way Varlamov played against us last year.”

Corey Crawford will start for the Hawks on Saturday, a few days after he let up three goals and was pulled in the first period of Tuesday’s 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

By the numbers: Faceoff percentage up for Hawks

December, 25, 2014
Dec 25
3:10
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
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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.

Hawks thoughts: Quenneville can't go wrong with Darling or Raanta

December, 15, 2014
Dec 15
11:13
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
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Here are five thoughts on the Chicago Blackhawks after their 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Sunday:

1. Plenty of teams around the NHL can only dream of having Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville’s goaltending problem. At some point in the next week, Quenneville will choose between Scott Darling and Antti Raanta to be his backup goaltender. On the one hand, you have Darling who is 5-2-0 with a 1.97 goals-against average and .937 save percentage this season. On the other, you have Raanta is 4-2-0 with a 1.85 goals-against average and .944 save percentage. Neither has played enough games to qualify for the league’s leaders, but Darling and Raanta would both be in the top-5 in goals-against average and save percentage with their current numbers. Since Crawford went down with his injury, Darling and Raanta have combined for a 6-1-0 record and have made 225 saves on 238 shots for a .945 save percentage.

2. Patrick Sharp is finding his groove. You could see he had more of a rhythm against the New York Islanders on Saturday. He attempted nine shots, seven of which were on net, and was a plus-6 Corsi against Islanders. He continued to have that aggressiveness Sunday and attempted seven shots, four on net, was a plus-15 Corsi and scored a goal. The Blackhawks have to like their chances of Sharp scoring when he’s getting four-plus shots on net in a game. Last season, he scored in 22-of-47 games where he had at least four shots on goal. He scored in 5-of-35 games when he had less than four shots.

3. All together, that third line of Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw and Sharp has been strong the last two games. They had the Blackhawks’ best possession numbers against the Islanders and the Flames. Shaw is a plus-27 over the last two games. He hasn't had better consecutive games this season.

4. Defenseman Tim Erixon’s debut for the Blackhawks went fine. He nearly made a massive mistake with a cross-ice pass to Michal Rozsival in the offensive zone in the first period. It just missed getting stolen and turned into a breakaway. Other than that, he held his own. He was a plus-7 Corsi with the Blackhawks having 13 shots for and six against with him on the ice in 5-on-5 situations. Considering David Rundblad has had four games out of 13 this season where he’s had a Corsi of plus-5 or better, Klas Dahlbeck was a negative Corsi in all four of his games and Adam Clendening was a plus Corsi once in four games, it’s a good start for Erixon. He also played 14 shifts and 10:43 of ice time, which says Quenneville had some confidence in him in a tight game.

5. I was curious how the Blackhawks’ lines stacked up according to their cap hits. The top line of Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa totals at $12,339,167, according to capgeek.com. It is followed by the line of Bickell, Shaw and Sharp at $11,900,000, then Kris Versteeg, Brad Richards and Patrick Kane at $10,500,000 and finally Daniel Carcillo, Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith at $3,375,000.

Rapid Reaction: Blackhawks 2, Flames 1

December, 14, 2014
Dec 14
9:51
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
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video

CHICAGO -- Here's a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames at the United Center on Sunday:

How it happened: Brandon Saad scored the game-winning goal and broke a 1-1 tie off an odd-man rush at 12:57 of the second period. Jiri Hudler put the Flames ahead 1-0 when he scored from the deep slot off a pass from a Johnny Gaudreau at 4:27 of the second period. The Blackhawks answered with a power-play goal from Patrick Sharp later in the period. Blackhawks goaltender Antti Raanta made 23 saves on 24 shots. Flames goaltender Jonas Hiller stopped 26 of 28 shots. The Blackhawks were 1-for-3 on the power play and the Flames were 0-for-3.

What it means: The Blackhawks extended their home winning streak to six games. They improved to 21-9-1 on the season and overtook the St. Louis Blues for first place in the Central Division. The Flames dropped their fifth game in a row. The Blackhawks got contributions for both sides of their special teams. It was the Blackhawks' first power-play goal in five games. They have allowed just two power-play goals in the past 11 games. Chicago also continued its third-period success.

Player of the game: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews had the primary assist on both goals.

Stat of the game: The Blackhawks won 30 of 49 faceoffs.

What's next: The Blackhawks remain home and play the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. It's their first of five games this season.

Patrick Sharp likely back next week

December, 4, 2014
Dec 4
2:01
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
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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.

Sharp happy to be with teammates again

December, 2, 2014
Dec 2
3:53
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp had no distractions with his family and his team out of town for much of the last two weeks, but the isolation got to him after a while as he stuck back in Chicago to recuperate from a recent leg injury.

“It was pretty lonely,” Sharp said Tuesday. “My family left the day the team left to go back to Connecticut for Thanksgiving because they were unsure where I was going to be. I was supposed to be on that road trip. It was a long couple weeks here in Chicago by myself.

“It’s just nice to see everybody around the locker room. I’ve been here the last two weeks by myself, talking to myself, talking to the trainer. It’s nice to see some friendly faces and have everybody back.”

Sharp joined his teammates on the ice Tuesday for the first time since suffering his injury during a game on Nov. 4. He was expected to miss 3-4 weeks.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Sharp will miss his 12th consecutive game and will not play against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday. The Blackhawks next play Friday.

“Practiced well today, day-to-day, not playing tomorrow, but we’ll have a better assessment over the next day or so,” Quenneville said.

(Read full post)

Blackhawks not looking past Ducks

November, 28, 2014
Nov 28
2:29
PM CT
Arritt By Dan Arritt
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- With so much focus and energy placed on getting through the current six-game circus road trip with positive results and healthy bodies, Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville hasn’t had time to look ahead at what’s lurking once the team returns home next week.

Certainly not with a huge test awaiting the Blackhawks on Friday against the Anaheim Ducks, followed by Saturday night's contest against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.

“I think you just look at today’s opponent, knowing it was a tough loss last time, always a close game, always competitive games with Anaheim, and that’s our mindset,” Quenneville said outside Chicago’s locker room prior to its meeting with the Ducks.

After completing this season's second-longest road trip Saturday against the Kings, the Blackhawks will fly home and begin preparing for Wednesday’s clash against the St. Louis Blues, who began the day in second place in the Central Division, three points ahead of Chicago. Like the Blackhawks, the Blues will have three days off between games.

Two days later, Chicago is scheduled to host the Montreal Canadiens, who began Friday tied with the Ducks for the most points in the NHL (33). Then the Blackhawks head back out on the road for four games, the first against the Nashville Predators, who currently lead the Central Division by five points over the third-place Blackhawks.

Quenneville is aware of the stacked schedule that awaits his team, but any notes on future opponents are still tucked deep in his briefcase.

“Our next five games are all tough teams, top teams as well," Quenneville said, "but we don’t have time to look ahead.”

And that includes pinpointing the return of Patrick Sharp, the team’s leading goal scorer three of the last four years, who will miss his 10th consecutive game with a leg injury suffered in a 5-0 win against the Canadiens on Nov. 5.

Sharp is reportedly on the verge of returning, possibly as soon as Wednesday against the Blues, but Quenneville is only pondering how he can topple the Ducks, who beat his team 1-0 on Oct. 28 in Chicago. Among the positives, win would guarantee the Blackhawks a winning mark on the current road trip.

Chicago will have Corey Crawford in goal against the Ducks. Crawford didn't play in the earlier loss to Anaheim as he was sidelined with an upper-body injury. Quenneville wasn’t ready to name a starting goalie for Saturday’s game in Los Angeles, however.

That would be looking too far ahead, no doubt.

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

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
11:36
AM CT
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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.

Blackhawks' 20-game season review

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
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.

(Read full post)

Hawks recall Danault, place Sharp on LTIR

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
11:40
AM CT
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The Chicago Blackhawks recalled forward Phillip Danault from the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL and placed forward Patrick Sharp on the long-term injured reserve Friday.

Danault, 21, has three goals and seven assists in 14 games for the IceHogs this season. He was drafted by the Blackhawks in the first round in 2011. He has not appeared in an NHL game.

Sharp suffered a lower-body injury Nov. 4 and was expected to miss 3-4 weeks. The Blackhawks announced through their Twitter account Friday that Sharp "isn't expected to miss any more time than originally expected.”

The Blackhawks have 14 forwards on their active roster.


W2W4: Capitals at Blackhawks

November, 7, 2014
Nov 7
1:01
PM CT
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CHICAGO -- Here’s what to watch for when the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks play at the United Center on Friday:

• The Blackhawks are coming off one of their best games of the season, a 5-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. It was just the fourth time they scored more than two goals in a game this season. The win snapped a two-game losing streak and improved them to 7-5-1.

• The Capitals have dropped their last five games and are 4-5-3 on the season. Alex Ovechkin (six goals, seven assists) and Nicklas Backstrom (three goals, 10 assists) each lead the Capitals with 13 points.

• The Blackhawks will be without forward Patrick Sharp for 3-4 weeks after he suffered a lower-body injury Tuesday. He has three goals, six assists and is third among the team’s forwards in ice time this season. The Blackhawks are also still without forward Daniel Carcillo, who was injured Oct. 25. The Blackhawks recalled Peter Regin on Thursday to give them 12 healthy forwards.

• The Blackhawks’ lines are expected to be Ben SmithJonathan ToewsPatrick Kane, Brandon SaadAndrew ShawMarian Hossa, Bryan BickellMarcus KrugerKris Versteeg, Regin – Brad RichardsJeremy Morin. The defenseman pairings are expected to be Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook, Johnny OduyaNiklas Hjalmarsson and Trevor van RiemsdykDavid Rundblad.

• Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford will start his fourth consecutive game since returning from injury. He’s 4-2-1 with a 1.53 goals-against average and .938 save percentage this season.

Braden Holtby will start in net for the Capitals. He’s 3-3-2 with a 2.67 goals-against average and .891 save percentage this season.

• The Capitals are one of the league’s premier power-play teams and are second in the NHL at 29.3 percent. The Blackhawks lead the league with a 92.7 penalty-kill percentage.

• The two teams will next meet in the Winter Classic, which will be held at Nationals Park on Jan. 1, 2015. The players wore winter caps in their dressing rooms during interviews Friday.

Brandon Saad: Hawks have to dig deeper without Patrick Sharp

November, 5, 2014
Nov 5
7:32
PM CT
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad feels he and others will have to fill the void left in their lineup by the recent injury to Patrick Sharp.

Sharp suffered an undisclosed lower-body injury against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Sharp would be out for a “bit” after the game. The Blackhawks had Wednesday off, and no updates on Sharp’s injury were provided.

Brandon Saad
Saad
Saad stood in for Sharp as the team unveiled its Winter Classic jersey in downtown Chicago on Wednesday night.

“Yeah, it’s going to be tough,” Saad said of Sharp’s injury. “Seeing him go down is never good, a player of his caliber. But it’s an opportunity for other players, and we’re going to have to step up and fill that spot.

“That’s something I look forward every day to put that pressure on myself and continue to get better. With a player of that caliber going down, everybody needs to dig a little deeper.”

The Blackhawks’ greatest concern will be replacing Sharp’s offensive ability. He normally is among their points leaders and often plays a top-6 and power-play role. He led the Blackhawks last season with 78 points, which included 34 goals and 44 assists. He has three goals and six assists in 13 games this season.

Aside from Sharp’s injury, the Blackhawks felt good about themselves after a 5-0 win over the Canadiens on Tuesday. They had been struggling to score goals in recent games.

Saad believed the Blackhawks could duplicate that offensive success even without Sharp by keeping to the basics.

“He’s a goal scorer, and he works hard,” Saad said. “Even though we were slacking in production, continue that same theme of getting to the net and that will help out.”

The Blackhawks last had to do without Sharp for a stretch in the 2013 shortened season. He missed 14 games with an upper-body injury.

Saad was hopeful he could begin contributing more points to the team. He has two points over the last seven games and no goals over the last eight games. He has one goal and seven assists in 13 games this season.

He also felt Tuesday’s game was a starting point to get him on track.

“I think through last night doing the little things and having the right habits and playing the right way, the points will come,” Saad said.

IceHogs ready if needed to replace Sharp

November, 5, 2014
Nov 5
12:49
AM CT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp’s injury Tuesday could present an NHL opportunity for someone within the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs.

The Blackhawks would be down to 11 forwards if Sharp has to miss any time due to the lower-body injury he suffered against the Montreal Canadiens. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Sharp would be out a “bit” after the game. Players’ injuries have often lasted at least a few weeks when Quenneville has used those same words before.

If the Blackhawks do need a forward, IceHogs coach Ted Dent said he has a number of them ready for that jump. The IceHogs extended their winning streak to six games by rallying from a 4-1 deficit to defeat the Lake Erie Monsters 5-4 in overtime on Tuesday.

“They control what they control here,” Dent said of his players after the game. “Some of the guys have been playing really well. If there’s a need for a call-up or a spark in Chicago, then I think there’s a few guys waiting in the wings who are ready.”

Some of those possibilities performed well on Tuesday.

Mark McNeil scored two goals in Tuesday’s victory and has five points in the past three games. He leads the IceHogs with five goals and is tied for first with 10 points. He has yet to play in the NHL.

“That’s management’s decision,” McNeill said after Tuesday's game. “That’s something that’s out of my control. I just got to keep working hard and working towards that opportunity up top. ... I’m hungry. I want it for sure. Like I said, that’s not my call.”

Peter Regin had a similar answer. Regin, who re-signed with the Blackhawks in the offseason, had expected to remain in the NHL out of the training camp but was assigned to the IceHogs. He has made the most of it and has 10 points in 11 games. He scored the final two goals in Tuesday's victory. He played in 22 total games for the Blackhawks last season.

“We’re 22 guys here who are hoping to get that call,” Regin said. “It’s the same with me. That hasn’t changed. Like I said, I’m just trying to take it day by day here and to help this team out and do the best I can every day in practices and in games.

“If I get the call, I’ll be happy and I’ll do the best I can up there. Like I said, that’s out of my hands. That’s out of my control. The only thing I can control is how I play here, and I thought it’s been going pretty well, actually. Hopefully, I’m in the mix anyway.”

Phillip Danault and Garret Ross are two other forwards who have played well for the IceHogs this season. Ross had a hat trick recently and had three assists on Tuesday. Both players are tied for third on the team with eight points. Neither player has appeared in an NHL game.

“It’s tough to say,” Danault said. “We don’t know what they’re thinking. We just stay focused here. Obviously, it’s our dream to be called up as soon as possible. Chicago is the best team to know when we’re ready. They can see that through us for sure.”

One NHL call-up possibility who did not play on Tuesday was Teuvo Teravainen. He sat out Tuesday’s game due to the flu. He is considered the organization’s top prospect and is thought to have the potential to be a top-six forward. He has one goal and six assists in 10 games for the IceHogs this season.

Teravainen wasn’t available after the game, but he spoke earlier in the day about staying prepared for an NHL opportunity. He played in three NHL games last season.

“I really think I can play in that league right now,” Teravainen said after the IceHogs’ morning skate on Tuesday. “I try to wait for my chance. If I get my chance, I try to play my best.”

Hawks hope Kane-Toews pairing will add spark

November, 4, 2014
Nov 4
1:25
PM CT
By Kelsey Patterson
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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Joel Quenneville is trying to jumpstart the Chicago Blackhawks' offense by shuffling his first two lines.

In the hopes of waking his team’s slumbering forwards, Quenneville will put Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews together on the first line when the team takes to the Bell Centre ice Tuesday evening against the Montreal Canadiens.

“These guys should be leading our offence,” said Quenneville of Kane and Toews. “Usually we like them spread out to give us a little bit more of a balanced attack, but putting them back together… They like playing with one another, and right now we are looking for a little more scoring.”

The Hawks have scored just two goals in their last two games and 12 in their last seven. The team is on a two-game losing streak. Their last time out, the Blackhawks were shut out by the Winnipeg Jets at home.

Meanwhile, Toews and Kane -- who will be joined by Ben Smith on the first line on Tuesday -- aren’t having the start to a season they’re used to. Toews has scored four goals in Chicago’s 12 games, and Kane hasn’t found the back of the net in his last eight.

Quenneville hopes the line shuffle will give his star forwards a much-needed spark.

“We try everything,” Quenneville said. “If it’s not working over the course of the season, you’re going to try things. Hopefully they stick. We’ll start the game like that, and hopefully they’ll go for a lot longer than just a period in the game.”

As a result of the switch, Marian Hossa with play on the second line with Patrick Sharp and Andrew Shaw.

“I’m not looking for an explosion,” Quenneville said. “I’m just looking for a consistent amount of goals.”

Richards finding rhythm with Blackhawks

October, 29, 2014
Oct 29
6:06
PM CT
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CHICAGO -- Brad Richards hasn’t arrived to where he wants to be in his game with the Chicago Blackhawks yet, but he does feel he’s in a better spot than he was when the season began.

Richards had one of his better games Tuesday since joining the Blackhawks this season. He and Patrick Sharp nearly set up each other for a few goals against the Anaheim Ducks, but neither could locate the finishing touch.

Like a lot of Blackhawks so far this season, Richards has been frustrated by his lack of scoring. The team has 21 goals over nine games, and Richards has zero goals and three assists. He’s tied for sixth on the team with 22 shots on goal.

“I feel better, but still need to contribute,” Richards said after practice on Wednesday. “It’s tough when you don’t score in a game and you have all those chances. I’m trying to find my way and it would be nice to score a big goal. Besides that, I feel a lot better than I did two weeks ago. Just keep plugging away.”

The newly-assembled line of Sharp, Richards and Kris Versteeg has created some quality chances over the last three games. Versteeg had a goal off assists from Sharp and Richards against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. Richards was a plus-4 Corsi in 5-on-5 situations against the Ducks and has been a plus-11 over the last three games.

“We had looks that some nights you get two or three goals, that line, and you’re looking at life a whole lot different today,” Richards said. “I'd rather be doing that than not touching the puck out there, that's for sure. That's what I mean by building on stuff. I don't think that was there two weeks ago when I started Game 1, where Sharpie made a great pass to me and for some reason the puck decided to jump five feet in the air. You've got to battle through those things.

“Every year I've played there are times [where opportunities are missed]. It's unfortunate that it's right at the start of the season when you're trying to get off to a good start, but you can't lose focus that it's a marathon. Just come to work every day and try to improve.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville noticed one specific difference in Richards the last few days.

“I see him skating better,” Quenneville said. “He's moving better. I thought he skated better [Tuesday] night. He looked good here today. That quickness is kind of complementary to our type if game. It will help us play out system better. Odd-man breaks and races for pucks, he'll get there quicker.”

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Kane
PTS GOALS AST +/-
39 18 21 10
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 18
AssistsP. Kane 21
+/-K. Versteeg 15
GAAC. Crawford 2.00