Carcillo's chatter, contributions hard to ignore

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Carcillo's chatter, contributions hard to ignore

Daniel Carcillo is just itching to connect on a goal.

The Blackhawks left wing has come close a few times, including Wednesday night against the Anaheim Ducks, but figures hes just pressing too much right now.

Nevertheless hes looking forward to that first goal. OK, and even that first fight.

You cant buy one in the West anymore. My first year in Phoenix (with the Coyotes), it was every night, said Carcillo, whose been biding his time in that category. Obviously you dont want to fight when youre up unless someone takes liberties on a teammate. That hasnt happened. Its just little things I think about, just a way to chip in.

He has been chipping in. Its just that, so far, hes done it with his forecheck instead of his fists.

Carcillo has fit just fine on a line with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa, a combination that balances Carcillos penchant for attracting opponents attention with his linemates thriving in the space that creates. He was there again on Wednesday, giving Kane enough space to send that highlight-reel pass to Hossa for a goal.

You see Kanes highlight a lot but Danny was driving the net and distracting the goalie and defenseman, coach Joel Quenneville said. I dont think hes that one-dimensional guy who just provides energy. He has skill, ability, and hell get better playing with those guys once hes more familiar with them.

Kane appreciates Carcillos work on the ice, if not his talking off it.

Sometimes you have to tune him out on the bench because he talks too much, Kane said with a laugh. Hes good for us because hes that personality on the ice; teams are more worried about him than just focusing on us two. So its nice to have that out there.

Its not a total surprise to see Carcillo among the top lines. In his first season with the Flyers he was with Mike Richards and Simon Gagn for a good chunk of games. And hes reveling in this opportunity.

I know I can play with those types of guys. I never wanted to be just a fourth-line kind of guy in this league, he said. Every games different; Q likes to shuffle lines, so if its not going one particular period itll get changed up. Its a particular game I play and if Im not playing it, its noticeable. So I just have to be ready every night.

The line most thought wouldnt last past a game or two is still doing just fine through nearly three weeks. Still, Carcillo admitted he was taken aback when he originally found out this assignment.

Its been a bit of a surprise, coming back from (a two-game) suspension and being thrown on that line. I didnt expect that, he said. But I know what my job is, whatever line I play on and especially with those guys: get them the puck and get on the forecheck. Theyre two of the best in the league, so I just have to play Xs and Os.

So for now, the potential KOs will take a backseat. Carcillo has behaved himself, avoiding pot-stirring incidents. Quenneville said he commends Carcillo on his early-season discipline and is happy with his work with Kane and Hossa.

Carcillo is happy with his opportunity.

This is a good situation, he said. I just wanted to come here and show what I can do. And I think Ive been doing pretty good.

Briefly

Corey Crawford will start Friday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Blackhawks will be looking for their first victory in Carolina since Jan. 14, 1998 (they won 4-1).

Blackhawks acquire Michael Latta from Kings in swap of minor leaguers

Blackhawks acquire Michael Latta from Kings in swap of minor leaguers

The Blackhawks made a minor league deal on Saturday, announcing the acquisition of forward Michael Latta from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for defenseman Cameron Schilling.

Latta, 25, has two goals and four assists in 29 games this season with the Ontario (Calif.) Reign of the American Hockey League.

He has four goals and 13 assists in 113 career games in the National Hockey League, all with the Washington Capitals from 2013-16.

Latta, who was a third-round pick (No. 72 overall) by the Nashville Predators in 2009, will report to the AHL's Rockford IceHogs. He carries a $600,000 cap hit, and is a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Schilling ranked second among defensemen on the IceHogs with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 40 games, and had a minus-3 rating. The 28-year-old blue liner signed a two-year contract worth $575,000 per season with the Blackhawks in July 2015.

One-goal victories are great but Blackhawks’ method has to change

One-goal victories are great but Blackhawks’ method has to change

See the Blackhawks get off to a slow start. See the Blackhawks get outshot. See the Blackhawks lean on their goaltending. See the Blackhawks find some offense in the third period. See the Blackhawks win.

This is a story the Blackhawks have written and played out plenty this season. Despite all evidence that it should work out to the contrary, the Blackhawks continue to pull out victories. But as we're well into the second half of the season, how much longer can they win with this formula? And is this, more than anything, a testament to how much they need to acquire someone (or plural) at the deadline to bolster their forward lineup?

Entering Sunday night's game against Vancouver the Blackhawks remain second in the Western Conference, two points behind Minnesota. Not surprisingly, they enter Sunday coming off another one-goal victory, a 1-0 decision over Boston on Friday night. Friday's game was cut from the same cloth as so many other one-goal games this season (please see above for the script). 

Here's how the Blackhawks are doing in one-goal games (through 48 games played this season) and how they've done in previous seasons:

Year Record
2016-17 18-7-5
2015-16 17-7-9
2014-15 22-13-6
2013-14 17-8-15
2012-13 19-3-5 (lockout yr.)
2011-12 22-6-11
2010-11 16-13-9
2009-10 23-9-8

The Blackhawks played 41 one-goal games (half of their regular-season games) in the 2014-15 season. Thirty of their 48 games this season have been one-goal games. But again, it comes down to how you're winning those games, and the Blackhawks are winning just about all of them in the same way: deal with a slow start and come back in the third period, relying on goaltending the entire time.

Being outshot the amount of times the Blackhawks have this season remains alarming. Sure, sometimes a lot of shots don't mean a lot of quality chances. But it's still better than minimal shots, and any shot can be an opportunity for a rebound, a deflection, something. From our stats guru Chris Kamka, here's a breakdown of the Blackhawks' shots per game vs. opponents, dating back to 2008-09:

Year Shots/Gm Opp. Shots/Gm Diff.
2008-09 32.7 28.6 +4.2
2009-10 34.1 25.1 +9.1
2010-11 32.2 28.7 +3.6
2011-12 31.5 28.6 +3.0
2012-13 31.1 26.2 +4.9
2013-14 33.1 27.2 +6.0
2014-15 33.9 30.2 +3.8
2015-16 30.5 30.8 -0.3
2016-17 29.3 31.1 -1.7

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

It's no surprise that the Blackhawks' differential was especially good in their Stanley Cup-winning seasons (and even 2013-14, when they went to the Western Conference Final). Those Blackhawks teams were deep, especially at forward. They weren't waiting for the perfect shooting opportunities as much as just firing. They had great four-line rotations, something they've sorely been lacking the past two seasons, which makes a difference with puck possession.

The Blackhawks will see what's available at the trade deadline. As I wrote a few days ago, there will be names out there but, considering some teams are still hoping for playoff spots, you take mentions for what they are right now. Over the next few weeks the picture will become clearer, and adding the right depth could rekindle that four-line rotation.

We've said throughout this season that the Blackhawks can't keep this up. We said it in November, and December, and now. Understand where we're coming from here; the Blackhawks can absolutely keep winning one-goal games. They've shown that in recent seasons and in the postseason, when the ability to do that is critical. But it's doubtful they can keep doing it the way they have most this season.