Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Avalanche: Controversial offsides ruling turning point in comeback

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Avalanche: Controversial offsides ruling turning point in comeback

Here’s the problem with writing Quick Hits ahead of time: they can change quickly. Coach Joel Quenneville uses that phrase all the time, and we didn’t heed it.

Still, what were the odds the Blackhawks would turn a two-period, 3-1 deficit into a 6-3 victory? Live and learn – and wait until the end of the game to write.

Anyway, we’re stalling. Let’s look at the notables from the Blackhawks’ comeback victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

What Worked: The third period. Well, more to the point, the final 10 minutes of it. The Blackhawks played better overall in the third period after admitting to radio and TV that they were too cute for their own good through the first 20 minutes. Better shots, more shots and more traffic led to the desired results for the Blackhawks, who were unstoppable that final 20 minutes.

What Didn’t Work: The Avalanche’s challenge. On first glance it looked like the Avs were going to win their challenge for offside on Jonathan Toews’ first goal and any momentum the Blackhawks did gain from it would be gone. Not so fast. Officials deemed it a good goal, ruling the review “was not conclusive in determining whether Toews tagged up at the instant the puck was on Richard Panik’s stick when Chicago entered the attacking zone prior to the goal.” When a review is inconclusive, officials are, “instructed to confirm their original call.” The Blackhawks had the goal, the momentum and they ran with it.

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Star of the game: Toews. You look to your leaders in situations like this and Toews was outstanding in that final period. His first goal woke the Blackhawks up and his second put it out of reach (5-3 at the time). Toews is now on a four-game point streak (three goals, two assists).

He Said It: “It’s just fun to watch. And then I’m just trying to stay into it, because I didn’t have any shots or chances for eight or nine minutes I’d say there. [The Avs] not going to give up. They’re going to come back and try and do anything they can. You’ve got to stay mentally in it as a goalie because you’ve got to be ready when they come back your way. But it was super impressive to watch.” — Scott Darling on the Blackhawks’ comeback.

By the Numbers:

34 – Time, in seconds, that the Blackhawks scored three goals in the third period (Toews, Richard Panik, Artemi Panarin).

17 – Goals, in his last 20 games, for Patrick Kane. With 79 points, Kane is now tied for third in the league in points with Brad Marchand (79). He trails Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby (80 each).

6 – Consecutive games in which Artemi Panarin has at last a point. He has four goals and four assists in that span.

8-1-0 – Record for Scott Darling since Jan. 1.

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Eight draft picks in about 3 ½ hours. It was a busy Saturday for the Blackhawks, and when general manager Stan Bowman talked that afternoon about the team’s Day 2 haul, he came prepared.

“I have my little cheat sheet,” Bowman said of the paper on which he had written the Blackhawks’ eight newest prospects.

After a few days’ worth of moves the Blackhawks focused on the future, taking nine players over two days at the NHL Draft. It was a successful weekend for the Blackhawks, who hosted the draft for the first time and built up assets, especially on the blue line. Five of the Blackhawks’ nine selections were defensemen.

“One of the things we talked about was looking at the market. There’s a high value on defensemen. We’re not necessarily looking at the draft but our team this year and over the next couple of years; those are the assets that are valuable around the league,” Bowman said. “Look at the trade Calgary made [for Travis Hamonic], defensemen are a valuable commodity. That was a priority coming in and we were able to accomplish it.”

What comes next

The Blackhawks got what they wanted at this weekend’s draft but the focus will soon shift, as free agency opens on July 1. It remains to be seen what the Blackhawks will have cap-wise come a week from now. Currently, according to CapFriendly.com, they’re $1.445 million over the $75 million cap. It’s doubtful the Blackhawks apply the long-term injured reserve tag on Marian Hossa during the offseason. It’s possible they could still trade Marcus Kruger to gain some space. Bowman said, one way or another, “there will be some movement.”

“We’ll bring some players in, I don’t know how many, what position or what level,” he said. “This is where there’s a lot of activity, the couple weeks in the middle of June until the middle of July. That’s when the most changes happen. We’ll go to work, now that we’re past this.”

Wait for it

The Blackhawks also have to decide whether or not to qualify restricted free agents Dennis Rasmussen and Tomas Jurco. Bowman said that’ll be decided by Monday.

“I’ve had discussions with both agents,” he said. “I don’t have an answer right now but we’ll have that worked out in the next day and a half.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson heard some of the rumors, but not to a large degree. The former Blackhawks defenseman wasn’t spending a lot of time on the internet reading up on his potential fate. He figured he’d still stay put in Chicago.

“But when my agent called me about the 10-team list, I understood it was serious. Stan [Bowman] wouldn’t ask for that unless they made up their mind already,” Hjalmarsson said via conference call on Saturday. “That’s when it hit me that I’m probably not going to put the Hawks jersey on anymore.”

Indeed, Hjalmarsson’s next jersey will be that of the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired him in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy on Friday. Hjalmarsson’s departure marks the end of the line for another Blackhawks core player, and this one is jarring in how it will change the team’s defense.

Speaking of change, Hjalmarsson faces a lot of it himself now. Sure, there’s the obvious change for a guy who’s played his entire career in one place. It’s new surroundings and a new team, on which he knows former Blackhawks teammate Antti Raanta and fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

But the Coyotes have dealt with a lot of upheaval lately. Goaltender Mike Smith is gone. So is veteran Shane Doan. On Thursday, head coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes parted ways.

“They’re on a rebuild, a lot of new faces, lot of changes,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s tough to know what to expect but I think they’re a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I’m looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs.”

Hjalmarsson should find chemistry with Ekman-Larsson – the two were teammates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi – and Hjalmarsson will likely play a bigger role with the Coyotes. Arizona will probably look to Hjalmarsson a lot during its rebuild, given his Cup-winning history.

The first 24 hours were full of mixed emotions of Hjalmarsson. With his limited no-move clause, he was always a likely candidate to be moved from a Blackhawks team laden will full no-move clauses. He’s turning a page, but he won’t forget his time in Chicago anytime soon.

“I’m trying to always be a positive guy,” Hjalmarsson said. “I spent my whole 20s in Chicago, 10 unbelievable years. I didn’t think I’d win three Cups. Hopefully I can get one more before my career is over. I had the best time in Chicago, enjoyed every single year, playing in front of the best fans in the league. I’ve been spoiled. Now it’s time for me and my family to move on and seize the opportunity in Arizona and create some new fond memories.”