High Five: Red-hot Hawks, Toews fly by Wild

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High Five: Red-hot Hawks, Toews fly by Wild

Monday, Feb. 28, 2011
Posted 9:31 p.m. Updated 10:55 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

ST. PAUL, Minn. Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa sprinted down the ice for a 2-on-1 opportunity, Hossa connecting to end the Minnesota Wilds late burgeoning threat to tie the game.

WATCH: Coach Q says Toews is a force

Its just the way the Chicago Blackhawks are rolling right now. The team that struggled to hold onto ties or leads late is now finding ways to win them.

TRADE: Hawks land defenseman Campoli

Toews had a goal and two assists and Patrick Sharp scored his 33rd goal of the season as the Blackhawks beat the Wild 4-2 at Xcel Energy Center on Monday night. The Blackhawks have now won a season-best five in a row and at games end sat in sixth place in the Western Conference.

We dont even feel like were on a hot streak right now, said Toews, who now has points in six consecutive games. Were just taking it one game at a time. Whenever we come up with two points, whether its a shootout win or by a couple goals, it doesnt matter how we get it.

Not that this one didnt have its drama at the end. The Blackhawks led 3-0 after two but the Wild struck early in the third when Martin Havlat came out of the penalty box to beat Corey Crawford. They scored again with less than five minutes left, as Brent Burns knocked home a rebound and then got a power play about a minute later.

But when Pierre-Marc Bouchard made a valiant but unsuccessful attempt to keep the puck in the zone, Toews took it and went with Hossa to set up Hossas short-handed goal.

We got ourselves in a little trouble, said Hossa, who now has a goal in each of his last four games. We controlled the game pretty much all the way and then they scored that second goal and it was a game. Toewser picked up that puck and made a really nice play to me. Basically, I just tried to hit it in.

Crawford, starting in his eighth consecutive game, stopped 24 of 26 for his 23rd victory this season.

Everyone, especially on the road, keeps it real simple, he said. Were not forcing anything. We create our opportunities down low and were not giving the other team too much.

Its not really surprising at this point that Toews was once again at the center of a big play. Hes been strong all season but especially these past few games, as the Blackhawks have pulled themselves back into the Western Conference hunt.
Marian Hossa taps in the pass from Jonathan Toews for a short-handed goal to put the Blackhawks up 4-2 late in the third period. The Blackhawks continue to excel when Hossa scores and the assist was the third point of the game for Toews, giving him 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists) in his last 6 games. (AP)
Hes been a force, coach Joel Quenneville said. Hes been dominating in all aspects of the game. That was a huge goal at the end with patience. (Patrick Kane) gave him a comparable play early in the game. Hes been a huge factor.

The Blackhawks are finally putting together the run theyve wanted. Those points they used to leave behind theyre now collecting. Now they need to keep it going.

Weve been looking all year to put something together like this and the last three games have been huge games, Quenneville said. Lets keep the momentum here, build off the positive things. There are some things we cant be happy about in this game but the two points are the best part.

Briefly

The Blackhawks are now 18-4-2 this season when Hossa records a point.

John Scott made his presence known against the Wild, fighting Brad Staubitz after Staubitz hit Brian Campbell on an icing call.

Fernando Pisani and the newly acquired defenseman Chris Campoli were healthy scratches on Monday night.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

What to make of Blackhawks blockbuster deals

What to make of Blackhawks blockbuster deals

Before the clock struck noon on a day Chicago was hosting its first ever NHL Draft, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman sent shockwaves throughout the city and hockey world by completing a pair of blockbuster trades within an hour of each other.

The first was dealing three-time Stanley Cup-winning defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to Arizona, and the second involving Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad in a swap of talented wingers with Columbus.

This comes two days after the Blackhawks announced Marian Hossa will miss the 2017-18 campaign with a progressive skin disorder. That's three core players gone in the blink of an eye.

Who's ready for a new era in Chicago?

Rather than maximizing a championship window that was viewed as closing quickly, Bowman has elected to take a long-term approach and it might not be the worst idea.

There's no doubt the loss of Hjalmarsson, who remains one of the most underrated blue liners in the league, and Panarin, who finished in the top-10 in scoring among forwards in both of his first two NHL seasons, will sting.

But there's a good chance the Blackhawks wouldn't have been able to reward them with the pay raises they deserve after their contracts expire following the 2018-19 season, and that certainly played a huge role in the decision to head in a new direction.

In reacquiring Saad, the Blackhawks finally give Jonathan Toews that reliable left-winger they've desperately lacked since Saad was shipped out of town in 2015, providing balance throughout the top-six. Saad is also locked up for the next four years at a $6 million cap hit that will look better as time goes by.

For the last two years, the Blackhawks were known as a one-line scoring team thanks to the chemistry developed between Patrick Kane and Panarin.

The second-half emergence of Nick Schmaltz and familiarity Kane has developed with center Artem Anisimov has allowed Panarin to become expendable in their quest to solve their top-line woes. And that's not a bad consolation line, especially when you consider top prospect Alex DeBrincat could also be in the cards as early as this season.

On the back end, the Blackhawks receive a 24-year-old defenseman in Connor Murphy, who's also signed for the next four years at a $3.85 million cap hit, and carries a right-handed shot, something they've needed more of in the organization. While there will certainly be growing pains under Joel Quenneville, Murphy's ceiling is fairly high and gives the Blackhawks some speed coming out of their own zone.

In making both of these deals, the Blackhawks got younger in their attempt to keep up with a league that relies more on speed, addressing a few areas that Nashville exposed during their first-round sweep of the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs.

And while they may have sacrificed two key players in the short-term, the Blackhawks executed a plan that should keep the perceived championship window open longer than expected.

Saad Day: Blackhawks deal Artemi Panarin for familiar face

Saad Day: Blackhawks deal Artemi Panarin for familiar face

When the Blackhawks found Artemi Panarin, they found a talent who was NHL ready from the start, who found instant chemistry with Patrick Kane and earned a Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie. It was also a tremendous panacea for a team that couldn’t pull off a deal to keep Brandon Saad, who was the power forward that fit in beautifully in the Blackhawks’ top six.

On Friday, the Blackhawks brought Saad back and dealt Panarin to do it.   

Saad returns to the Blackhawks, who also acquire goaltender Anton Forsberg, in exchange for Panarin and Tyler Motte. The Blackhawks also get the Blue Jackets’ fifth-round pick in the 2018 NHL draft and the Columbus gets Chicago’s sixth-round pick from this weekend’s draft. Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the deal. The Blackhawks inherit Saad’s deal, which has four years remaining at a $6 million cap hit. Panarin was about to enter his current deal, which is two years with a $6 million cap hit. This is key for the immediate future; when Panarin’s latest deal is up, if he keeps up at his current pace, he’ll likely sign for a lot more.

[MORE: Blackhawks deal Hjalmarsson to Arizona]

The Blackhawks have missed Saad terribly since his departure. The team has struggled to find consistent line mates with Jonathan Toews, especially at that left-wing position. They did fairly well with Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik flanking Toews this season but it wasn’t as strong as the Saad-Toews combination. So it looks like the Blackhawks’ top line will be solidified again.

Now, what about the second line? As good as Toews and Saad’s chemistry was, Panarin’s and Kane’s was dynamite. The two had their respective skill, which they flashed often, and their ability to read each other was evident from the start. The Blackhawks’ second line was as consistent and steady the past two seasons as the top line was during Saad’s time here.

So, there are changes. The Blackhawks will absolutely miss what Panarin brings. But as far as bringing back a former Blackhawks player who could help in the present, getting the 24-year-old Saad back will be very beneficial.