I'm not one for award shows, so I'll keep this one brief. I'm handing outthree major awards for the Blackhawks and there was a stiff competition for each. Here arethe awards and the breakdown.MVP: Patrick SharpThis one looked like a lock for Jonathan Toews, until he went down on February 20th with concussion-like symptoms. So with almost a quarter of the season missed, I've got to give it to a guy who would have given Johnny a run for MVP even if the captain had been healthy all year. Patrick Sharp had a slow start to this season, by his standards, scoring onlyfive goals in his first 18 games. Once he shook the rust off, he was razor sharp, scoring 28 times in the next 57 games. Even an ugly wrist injury that kept him out forthree weeks didn't slow him down. Honorable mention to Marian Hossa who does what he always does, play among the elite.Best Defenceman: Brent SeabrookIt's hard to upstage a former Norris Trophy winning defenceman, but Seabrook did it this year. Duncan Keith came on strong the last half of the season, but from beginning to end, Brent Seabrook was a beast. Top 10 in the league in hits, top 12 in blocked shots, and top 20 in time on ice. His 21 was second best on the team. He also tied his career high withnine goals. Hard to believe he's only 26 years of age.Best Rookie: Andrew ShawThe Blackhawks saweight different rookies make it into the lineup this year and they were all very good and should have long careers with the this team. But none had more of an impact than Andrew Shaw. Taken in the 5th round in the 2011 draft, he scored in his very first NHL game, then addedfour more over his nextseven games. It's not just the numbers, it's the passion, the grit, the surprising skill and elusiveness when he has the puck that really makes you watch him.If you wantto see some old school hockey, take a picture of Andrew Shaw. And it just goes to show you, it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.
Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Boston Bruins tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.
Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.
Five Things to Watch:
1. Scott Darling gets the nod.
Joel Quenneville is giving a struggling Corey Crawford a breather tonight, electing to go with Darling in the final game of the father's road trip. Darling is 11-4-2 with a 2.34 goals against average, .924 save percentage and one shutout in 20 games this season. His numbers aren't as great on the road, where he is 4-2-1 with a 2.83 GAA and .901 save percentage compared to a 7-2-1 record with a 1.98 GAA and .928 save percentage at home, but he fared well against Boston last season. The Lemont native stopped 42 of 46 shots, good for a .913 save percentage, in a 6-4 win at the United Center last April.
2. The Panarin-Anisimov-Kane line.
The Blackhawks' trio of Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin had a rare zero points in Tuesday's 6-4 win over Colorado, but don't expect to see that again. In fact, it could be the opposite. In their last meeting against the Bruins, a 6-4 win on April 3 during the 2015-16 season, they combined for 11 points (five goals, six assists), highlighted by a Kane hat trick that put him at 100 points on the season for the first time in his career.
3. How the rookies build off a monsterous game.
In arguably the most well-rounded victory of the season Tuesday in Colorado, the Blackhawks had three rookies that had multi-point efforts. Vinnie Hinostroza had two goals, including the game winner. Tanner Kero had two goals and one assist, while Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. It was the top-six that was doing the heavy lifting earlier in the season, now the bottom-six is slowly starting to contribute on a consistent basis. The Blackhawks will be in great shape if they can confidently roll four lines that have the potential to find the back of the net on any given shift.
4. Patrice Bergeron vs. Jonathan Toews.
Two of the best two-way centers in the league will go head-to-head, and it's always a fun matchup to watch. Bergeron leads the league with 597 faceoff wins, and is ranked fifth with a 58.4 percentage at the dot while Toews ranks eighth in wins with 473 — despite missing nine games with a back injury — and sits at sixth with a 57.5 percentage. Both of the perennial Selke Trophy candidates have struggled offensively this season, with Bergeron recording only 21 points in 45 games and Toews with 22 points in 38 contests. Bergeron has been heating up as of late, though, scoring three goals and six assists in his last eight games. Bergeron also leads the league in possession numbers, with the Bruins controlling 61.9 percent of the even-strength shot attempts when he's on the ice.
5. Brad Marchand.
In September, Marchand inked an eight-year, $49 million deal and it's already paying dividends for the Bruins. He has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his last eight games, and 45 points total, which is by far the most on his team and tied for sixth in the NHL. He's 16 points away from tying his career high of 61 set last season, with a little less than half the year to go. He's also had great success against the Blackhawks. In his last six games against Chicago, dating back to the 2013-14 campaign, he has registered at least a point in all of them, scoring four goals and adding five assists. To make life more difficult, he's a player that enjoys getting under people's skin, so expect him to be a big factor tonight.
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
- Check out the latest stats and standings to make sure you’re ready for action
- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch
- NBC Sports App FAQ: All your questions answered
- Latest on the Blackhawks: All of the most recent news and notes
- See what Blackhawks fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Blackhawks Pulse
We interrupt this mid-January Blackhawks mailbag for an important announcement:
We are reaching that time of the season when trade rumors abound. There will be names galore, some that could make sense, some that will make absolutely no sense. Unfortunately, the latter will get as much attention in some circles as the former. That's the way this time of year goes.
One more note: On any name that's bandied about right now, check where his team is in the standings. If it's close to reaching a postseason spot, tap the brakes until things shake out a little more. I know, kids, I know: patience is not a virtue for many people, let alone Twitter. It'll all be OK.
With all that said onto the mailbag which, as you can imagine, asks a few trade-centric questions.
I agree on not trading the first-round draft pick. The Blackhawks have done that in the past but, with the draft in Chicago this summer, they’re going to want to hold onto that as well as a good amount of draft picks. This is their showcase.
I agreed with Jamal Mayers on CSN's latest podcast that the Blackhawks will likely look for someone with no term left on his contract past this season. I know there's been mention of guys with several years and big cap hits remaining on their deals, but how do the Blackhawks do that, especially with Artemi Panarin's new contract also kicking in next season? They'd have to get rid of a big contract and most of their big contracts also have no movement clauses.
Piggybacking off the last question, I do believe the Blackhawks have to do something to bolster their forward depth. They need someone who has some experience but won't cost them a lot (easy for me to say). Who that guy is right now, I'm not sure (don't worry, I'll be doing one of these in February, too). I wouldn't go for a Jarome Iginla or Shane Doan, as much as I like both of those guys. The Blackhawks don't have the forward depth to take a chance on a player who, while he may have been great several years ago, may not have much left now.
@TramyersCSN thoughts on the Blackhawks trying to reacquire Patrick sharp?— Ellodeardarling (@ElloDearDarling) January 18, 2017
I've got three thoughts on this one.
First, the Dallas Stars fall into the above-mentioned category regarding potential playoffs. Despite a slew of injuries and inconsistent play, the Stars are 11th in the Western Conference but are just two points out of a playoff spot.
Second, Sharp has struggled with his health this season, as concussions have led to two lengthy absences.
Third, and this is my biggest question: Can you go home again? The Blackhawks have brought back Cup winners a few times, from Kris Versteeg to Andrew Ladd to Brian Campbell. Versteeg’s return here was up and down, Campbell's has been OK (there have been a few healthy scratches in there) and Ladd's didn’t work at all. Yes, six years passed from when Ladd left to when he returned; a lot changes over six years. But the bottom line is the attempt to rekindle line magic between Ladd and Jonathan Toews failed. Just wonder if this would go the same way.
We talked to Jonathan Toews on Tuesday morning and he said the back is not the issue. I don't believe it's another injury. The problem is, I don't know what the problem is. Toews has snapped out of these slumps before but this one seems to be lingering. I'm sure the confidence is shaken; how can it not be? We're all human, and even the best question themselves at times. I still think Toews will find the offense again but I don't think his current performances have anything to do with an injury.
Let's address Toews’ faceoff percentage first: it's fine. For the season, he's winning 57.5 percent of his faceoffs, good for sixth in the NHL. Outside of that awful Washington game, he's been around 50 percent or better in recent games.
Regarding Kruger, it's tough to say. The Blackhawks are looking for more balance and more scoring, and if those two categories don't improve the changes will continue regardless of who's in the lineup. Does coach Joel Quenneville go back to the third line that was working before Kruger was hurt (when he was with Dennis Rasmussen and Richard Panik)? He could. Just depends on how the Blackhawks are trending when Kruger does return.
They could. Whether or not they do, I'm not sure yet. The Blackhawks did that with Brandon Saad back in the spring of 2012 once the Saginaw Spirit’s season ended. He played in two postseason games. My opinion, if the Blackhawks did it with anyone it would be DeBrincat. Even if he doesn't play, it’s a good chance to be around and practice with the team.
I know what you're referring to and all that article said was Vanek could be a possibility. As of Wednesday, the Red Wings are 14th in the Eastern Conference with 46 points. Sounds like they’re out of it, until you see they’re only four points from eighth place. As I said above, some of these teams are going to want to see where they are in a few weeks. As for cost, I wouldn't give up much past a pick, maybe two, but not high ones.
As of now, according to Cap Friendly, Hartman is eligible for the expansion draft. As far as the likelihood that Las Vegas takes him, it’s possible. It depends on what Vegas wants and needs. The Blackhawks, like everyone else, will lose one (and only one) player. Will Vegas want defensemen? Will they want a two-way player? But absolutely, Hartman would be available.
@TramyersCSN do you like the reds from the Piedmont region of Italy?— Jose Vivar (@kauaiking2010) January 18, 2017
I'm guessing I've had a few of those and, to my recollection, I didn't dislike them. Honestly, I'm not as much of a wine aficionado as I've led the Twitter world to believe. Pinot noirs aren't my favorite (pretty light), love Malbecs, most French and Italian wines and you really have to talk me into a Chardonnay (I do like the ones that are out of steel drums now; just not a fan of the oak taste). Cheers!