Examining the Blackhawks at the halfway mark

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Examining the Blackhawks at the halfway mark

Halfway through. The Chicago Blackhawks have played 41 regular-season games and have 41 left to go. So how did they do during that first half, and what do they need to do in the second?

The Blackhawks havent continued their December success in January, as theyre still looking for their first victory of the new year. And while they are no longer the best in the league, or in the Western Conference, the Blackhawks have nonetheless done pretty well in the first half.

There have been some good ones and some tough ones, but overall were in the thick of things, said Duncan Keith. I still think weve done some good things. We know theres a lot of room for improvement and a lot of areas we can get better at.

One of those areas is goals allowed. The Blackhawks have given up 120 goals so far this season, the fourth highest total in the West and the most of the conferences current top eight squads. The Blackhawks defense has been either great or struggling, and their bad games have been glaring.

For sure (there have been) too many goals, coach Joel Quenneville said after the Blackhawks gave up nine in two games this weekend. We had a great stretch prior to these last three games. Weve been solid in net, but weve given up too many of those types of goals that are preventable with position and awareness.

The Blackhawks defense was stellar through the back part of December, when they allowed two goals or less in their last seven games of 2011. That is what theyll need again for the final 41.

They also need to regain their scoring balance, which was also a December staple. When the Blackhawks have had those four lines rolling, as Quenneville likes to say, theyve been tough to beat. But the offense has quieted in January, too. Patrick Kane continues to struggle. And outside of rookies Andrew Shaw and Jimmy Hayes goals, the teams role players have been too quiet.

The Blackhawks should be getting a little healthier soon Steve Montador was taken off the injured reserve today. And with plenty of cap space, general manager Stan Bowman will get that missing piece to push this team forward into the playoffs.

As they sit second in the West entering Sundays game against Detroit, the Blackhawks are still in good shape. But they dont want to get in too much of a rut this month, especially when there are still a lot of home games left of which to take advantage.

Were still pretty good in the standings, Niklas Hjalmarsson said. The last couple of games here havent been good enough. Hopefully we can start the second half with a couple of wins and get it rolling again.

Report: Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen a 'major candidate' for Avalanche coaching job

Report: Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen a 'major candidate' for Avalanche coaching job

The Colorado Avalanche are looking for a new head coach, and Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen is reportedly a "major candidate" to land the job, according to Mike Chambers and Terry Frei of The Denver Post.

Dineen, 52, has spent the last two seasons as Joel Quenneville's right-hand man, and helped guide the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup victory in 2015.

He previously served as the head coach for the Florida Panthers, where he went 56-62-28 in two and a half seasons with the team.

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Dineen is familiar with the Colorado area as well, playing collegiate hockey at the University of Denver from 1981-83. He scored 26 goals and 23 assists in 67 games across two seasons with the Pioneers, and was named captain as a sophomore.

Because he's under contract with the Blackhawks for the 2016-17 season, the Avalanche would have to seek permission to interview Dineen, and it's possible it already happened.

The Avalanche are looking to replace Patrick Roy after he resigned on Aug. 11 due to philosophical differences with management.

Roy was 130-92-24 in three years with the Avalanche, guiding his former club to a Central Division title in his first season but missing out on the playoffs the past two years.

Patrick Sharp, Paul Konerko take photo together at Pearl Jam concert at Wrigley Field

Patrick Sharp, Paul Konerko take photo together at Pearl Jam concert at Wrigley Field

Patrick Sharp is back in Chicago, and spent Saturday evening at Wrigley Field taking in the Pearl Jam concert, one of his favorite bands.

The former Blackhawks forward happened to bump into another fan-favorite athlete Chicago is well familiar with: Paul Konerko of the White Sox.

Together, the two of them have helped bring four championships to the city.

Sharp couldn't resist tweeting the photo Saturday night to document the moment:

Blackhawks' Artemi Panarin named best Russian player in 2015-16

Blackhawks' Artemi Panarin named best Russian player in 2015-16

Artemi Panarin is bringing home some more hardware after his stellar rookie campaign with the Blackhawks.

The 24-year-old winger was named the 2015-16 Kharlamov Trophy winner, given annually to the best Russian hockey player in the Kontinental Hockey League and National Hockey League. Panarin led the way with 15 first-place votes and 43 total.

Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin came in second followed by Metallurg's Sergei Mozyakin, Washington's Alex Ovechkin (a seven-time winner of the award) and Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov.

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Panarin ranked first among all NHL rookies in multiple categories last season, including goals (30), assists (47), points (77) and game-winning goals (7) in 80 regular-season games, which earned him the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.

He was presented the award over the weekend:

https://twitter.com/NHLPA/status/766682940466139136

The award is voted on by the committee of the Russian Hall of Fame, Russian hockey legends/veterans, a group of KHL general managers, members of the media and past winners.

Check out the full voting results here.