Blackhawks aren't concerned with power outage

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Blackhawks aren't concerned with power outage

Marian Hossa said frustration isnt there right now.

Hossa has been out there on that Blackhawks power play, which is mired in a definite early-season slump. Hes taken his shots and watched his teammates do the same. But no matter the game, the opposing goaltender or the number of chances, the Blackhawks just cant connect on a power-play goal. Zip, zilch, nothing. And on Monday night against Nashville it was 0-for-7 nothing.

But Hossa isnt worried.

Were not really frustrated right now because we do a lot of good things. Were moving, he said. Just about the time when the first puck goes in, then itll come in bunches.

Its an optimistic attitude for a power play that hasnt had many positives. Yes, the opportunities have been there, and in the last two games so have the more choice shots. It didnt help on Monday that Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne was not in a very giving mood on the Blackhawks power plays. But the power play remains anemic nonetheless, as the Blackhawks have capitalized just four times on 45 advantages this season.

The Blackhawks last power-play goal came Oct. 22 against the Colorado Avalanche; theyve gone 0 for 18 in their last four games. Theyre converting just 8.9 percent of the time, which puts them 29th in the league only St. Louis power play is more futile (8.3 percent). Contrast that with their penalty kill, which has scored just one less goal (three) than their power play.

Theres your random stat for the day.

And as much as power-play chances and shots have improved, coach Joel Quenneville said those positives only go so far.

With the number of chances weve had, somethings got to give, he said. Were generating but we need production. Thats what we measure and thats what were looking to attain.

Quenneville loves to switch forward lines and defensive pairings when things arent going right, and hes done the same with the power play. The new combinations have yielded better scoring chances. But the Blackhawks could still shoot more: they had nine shots on seven power plays on Monday, including just two on a 5 on 3 that lasted one minute, 35 seconds.

When the Blackhawks had early shootout issues several players said this group was too talented for that to last. They were right. The mini-drought didnt last and the same is likely for the power play.

The Blackhawks have weathered power-play woes with good work elsewhere: strong goaltending and their ability to pile up goals on even strength among them. They also benefit from a stellar penalty kill, which is third in the NHL (91.7 percent). They probably win some games more handily if the power plays working, but theyre a strong 7-2-2 nonetheless.

Hockeys a game of ups and downs. The power play is decidedly down right now but the Blackhawks say its only a matter of time before it starts producing.

Were doing everything except putting it in the net, Patrick Kane said. Everything else is looking pretty good as far as movement. Breakouts were good tonight and there was good movement on the 5 on 3 and 5 on 4. We just have to score goals.

Panarin’s rep: 'He’ll forever cherish his time in Chicago'

Panarin’s rep: 'He’ll forever cherish his time in Chicago'

A little more than two years ago Artemi Panarin had many NHL teams vying for his services, the Blackhawks winning the bidding war and signing him. On Friday the Panarin-Blackhawks union was over, the 25-year-old traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

But according to his agent, if Panarin had it to do all over again, he still would have signed with the Blackhawks.

Dan Milstein, who represents Panarin, said the Russian left wing is forever grateful to the Blackhawks for the past two seasons in which he put up stellar numbers in consecutive regular seasons.

“The experience, playing on the same line with [Artem] Anisimov and [Patrick] Kane, having coach [Joel] Quenneville and many other members of the organization help him along the way, providing the translation services and being there for him, the entire process made his transition to North America extremely easy,” Milstein said. “He’ll forever cherish his time in Chicago.”

Milstein was in Chicago on Friday morning when he got the call from Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman on the trade – Bowman told the media on Friday that the deal “came together pretty quickly.” Milstein immediately called Panarin, who was about to get on a plane for a fishing trip in Russia.

“Initially he was shocked. But as the day went on we kept in touch and he understands,” Milstein said. “He said, ‘I understand it’s a business. I accept the challenge.’ His last words were, ‘I accept the challenge.’”

The deal, which sent Panarin and his upcoming two-year deal worth $6 million per season to Columbus, brought Brandon Saad back to Chicago. Saad will likely bring stability to the Blackhawks’ top line, which has missed his presence since he was traded in the summer of 2015. Who Kane’s left wing will be this season remains to be seen. Quenneville said on Saturday that Nick Schmaltz will probably get a good chance there; he played with Kane when Anisimov was hurt last season.

Still, the chemistry between Kane and Panarin will be tough to match. Milstein said he saw Kane briefly at the NHL Draft on Friday night, and that he told Milstein, “just let [Panarin] know that I love him.”

Panarin, like most of the Blackhawks, had a very quiet postseason. After recording seven points against the St. Louis Blues, Panarin had just one assist in four games against the Nashville Predators. Not long after the playoffs Panarin was interviewed in Russian. One of the quotes, translated into English, read, “I was not in the best shape and didn’t have enough strength” for the playoffs. Milstein didn’t believe that was an accurate translation.

“If you know Panarin, in his native tongue he’s very funny. If you use a translator, sometimes it takes things out of context. But I don’t believe that’s what he meant,” Milstein said. “He put a good [regular] season together, a fair season, but the performance in the playoffs, obviously, he was disappointed. He was frustrated with his performance.”

Milstein said Panarin will probably head to Columbus in a few weeks; he’s currently waiting on visa issues. Panarin’s time in Chicago was shorter than most thought it would be but his agent said he’s ready for the next challenge.

“Artemi is looking forward to coming here,” said Milstein, who was in Columbus on Monday. “This will be a good opportunity to shine.”

Blackhawks ink Anton Forsberg, Tomas Jurco

Blackhawks ink Anton Forsberg, Tomas Jurco

When the Blackhawks traded to get Brandon Saad back, they also acquired Anton Forsberg, who they believe is ready to be their latest backup goaltender. On Monday they signed him to a two-year deal.

The Blackhawks inked two players on Monday, Forsberg, whose contract runs through the 2018-19 season, and Tomas Jurco, who agreed to a one-year contract extension.

Forsberg joins the Blackhawks having very little NHL experience – he’s played 10 career games at this level, going 1-8-0. But the Blackhawks’ previous two backup goaltenders, Antti Raanta and Scott Darling, hadn’t made an NHL appearance before joining the Blackhawks. Forsberg led the Cleveland Monsters, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ AHL-affiliate team, to a Calder Cup title in 2016; during that run he went 9-0 with a 1.34 goals-against average and .949 save percentage.

On Friday, when the Blackhawks acquired Saad and Forsberg from Columbus for Artemi Panarin and Tyler Motte, general manager Stan Bowman said the team is, “optimistic about Anton’s potential.”

“We like his profile as a goalie,” he said. “He’s a big guy, takes up a lot of net, has that mobility and makes good positional saves as well as athletic saves. A year ago, led his team to the [Calder] Cup championships, so he knows what it’s like to put a team on his back. It was the AHL but he’s had a lot of success there. He’s earned the right to be an NHL goalie.”

Jurco, acquired by the Blackhawks from Detroit in February, played 13 games with them down the regular-season stretch. Bowman said shortly after the trade that Jurco would get a chance here.

“We’ll be patient with him but we really think there’s a good fit there, looking at his skills and the style of hockey we play,” he said. “I think a lot of ways, sometimes guys need different opportunities. It doesn’t work out in every place. A fresh start will be great for Tomas.”