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Gail Kauchak The Hockey Writers

Published on Monday, January 15, 2018





Blackhawks Weekly: Big Moves but Same Results

There’s no lack of things to discuss as the Chicago Blackhawks commenced the second half of their season this past week. Besides four matchups, the Hawks also underwent a number of personnel changes. They started out their week with an 8-2 rout over the Ottawa Senators. That was the highlight; as things went decidedly downhill from there.

They fell to their Central Division rival, the Minnesota Wild, 2-1 Wednesday, and then managed a 2-1 win over another divisional foe, the Winnipeg Jets, on Friday. Finally, the Hawks finished out the week being shut out by the Detroit Red Wings, 4-0. Yeah, even at home, they couldn’t score ONE goal against a bottom-feeding team that was on the second half of back-to-back games.

Ok, let’s move on. Here are the news and updates coming out of this past week for the Hawks.

Blackhawks’ Big Moves

Early last week, the Hawks swapped two forwards and two defensemen between the NHL and the AHL. They sent forward John Hayden to the Rockford IceHogs and placed defenseman Cody Franson on waivers. He cleared, so he joined his teammate in Rockford. They also recalled forward Tomas Jurco and defenseman Erik Gustafsson from the IceHogs. Both players have yet to suit up for the Blackhawks.

Hayden made his NHL debut last March upon completion of his collegiate career and finished off the season playing with the Hawks. A strong training camp in October earned him a spot on the roster once again, and he never looked back. But it appears things have finally caught up to the young winger. He hasn’t had much to contribute recently, and his playing time has dropped accordingly. The Hawks hope a stint in Rockford will help Hayden gain experience and confidence, and that he will have more to offer later in the season.

Franson went from playing 20 minutes a night alongside Duncan Keith to getting injured, to being placed on waivers. The Hawks brought him in as an offensive defenseman, and he made up for his lack of speed and skill with positional awareness. But now Jordan Oesterle has emerged as an even stronger partner to Keith. Franson’s skillset doesn’t translate to the more defensive assignments expected by the second and third pairings. Unfortunately, this leaves him the odd man out. The veteran is taking his demotion in stride and hopes the Hawks will need his experience down the stretch.

Anthony Duclair is the newest member of the Chicago Blackhawks. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

But the biggest move of the week involved Richard Panik being traded to the Arizona Coyotes for Anthony Duclair. Panik has been a huge disappointment this season, scoring only six times after tallying 22 goals last season. The Hawks were more than happy to unload his hefty two-year, $5.6-million contract. In return, they gained Duclair, who’s only signed for a $1.2 million, one-year contract. He’s a restricted free agent at the end of the season, so if he doesn’t work out the Hawks can let him go. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see if the speedy left winger can fit and thrive in the Blackhawks’ system.

Winner of the Week: David Kampf

It was hard to pick a winner here. Players were OK here and there, but few were consistent across the board. The honors this week go to David Kampf. After being called up from the IceHogs in late December, Kampf has played in 10 NHL games. In that time, he has one goal and four assists. Two of those assists have come in the last two games. But the highlight for Kampf was his first NHL goal, scored on his 23rd birthday this past Friday against the Winnipeg Jets.

Kampf has also taken some pressure off Jonathan Toews by taking and winning a lot of draws for Chicago. He’s taken 58 draws over the last four games, winning 55 percent of them. In that same span, Toews has taken 81 draws and won 50 percent of them. Overall, Kampf has won 52.5 percent of his draws so far, and Toews 57.4 percent. If Kampf can continue his offensive production and his contributions in the dot, he could be a valuable asset for the Hawks.

Loser of the Week: Vinnie Hinostroza

The magic that made Hinostroza the winner last week has worn off. He’s gone from five points in three games to one point in the last four games. He only managed two shots on goal in the last two games.

Vinnie Hinostroza is struggling to sustain his recent success. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

On Sunday against Detroit, Hinostroza was moved off the first line in favor of Duclair. He took Duclair’s place on the third line. That’s not a good sign for the young winger. The Hawks brought on Hinostroza for his speed and energy, and we haven’t seen that of late.

What Went Right for the Blackhawks: The Penalty Kill

In the last four games, the Hawks have killed off 14 power plays. Looking at the bigger picture, they’ve killed 19 power plays in the last seven games.

I guess this is good. Without a strong penalty kill, things could be a lot worse. But ideally the Hawks shouldn’t have to kill so many penalties. It ruins any momentum they might have. On that note, that’s all I can muster in the way of positives.

What Went Wrong for the Blackhawks: Scoring & Effort

The 8-2 victory over Edmonton was a bit of an anomaly. So for the purposes of this argument, let’s take that game out of the equation. In the last three games, the Hawks haven’t had a whole lot to be proud of. They’ve only won one of the three matchups, and that was by a close 2-1 margin. They scored three goals in said three games, and went 0-for-9 on the power play.

The Hawks are struggling to score once again. They’re taking too many shots from the perimeter and are not driving the net. They’re losing way too many battles for the puck. And especially Sunday against the Red Wings, their lack of effort was disconcerting. Coach Quenneville put it best after the game.

News and Notes

  • On Tuesday against the Senators, Brent Seabrook was a healthy scratch. That’s right, the three-time Stanley Cup winner sat out. Coach Q wanted to send a message that nobody is immune when it comes to poor play. To his credit, Seabs scored a goal the very next night against the Wild. It was only his second goal of the season.
  • Duclair has now suited up for two games with the Hawks. In his debut, he played on the third line and recorded an assist on Jan Rutta’s goal. Against Detroit, he replaced Hinostroza on the first line towards the end of the game. He spent time on the first power-play unit in both games. It’s clear there’s potential for him on this team.
  • Artem Anisimov skated the last two days, and it’s reported that he’s looking good. All signs point toward him being ready to rejoin the lineup after the Hawks’ bye-week.
  • With all the personnel moves, it was lost in the shuffle that Patrick Kane was named to this year’s All-Star team. He will be the only player to represent the Blackhawks.
Patrick Kane, Blackhawks

Patrick Kane will be the lone member of the Blackhawks to play in the upcoming All-Star game. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

  • Jeff Glass started in net the last two games. He looked solid against Winnipeg, but the wheels fell off against Detroit. He let in four goals on 26 shots, for a save percentage of .846. Rebound control has been a problem for Glass from the start, and the Red Wings exploited that.
  • There are still no updates on goaltender Corey Crawford. He hasn’t played since Dec. 23, and the Hawks placed him on injured reserve four days later. It’s now mid-January. That’s a long time to have no idea what’s going on with your star goaltender, and it’s a cause for major concern.

Wrapping It Up

The Blackhawks head into their bye week with a record of 22-17-6 and 50 points. News flash! This is not good enough for even a wild-card spot. As a matter of fact, the Hawks are once again second-to-last in their division. The last-place team, the Colorado Avalanche, has 49 points, but also three games in hand.

Players and fans alike will have to live with the bad taste of this recent shutout loss in their mouths until this Saturday, when the Hawks take on the New York Islanders. They’re right back at it the following Monday, when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning. Back-to-back tilts against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday and the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday will round out their week before the All-Star weekend.

Can the Blackhawks salvage the bleak situation they’ve gotten themselves into before it’s too late? We have five days to mull it over. Enjoy the break, everyone!


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