Five Things from Blackhawks-Avalanche: Great night for the rookies

Five Things from Blackhawks-Avalanche: Great night for the rookies

DENVER – Well, that was a wild one, wasn’t it?

We’ll spare you the gory-to-glorious details (most of which are in the game story, anyway). So instead, let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 6-4 victory over Colorado.

1. Great night for the rookies. The Blackhawks’ newest players were their most prolific players on Tuesday night. Vinnie Hinostroza had two goals. Tanner Kero did too, and added an assist. Nick Schmaltz had a goal and an assist. All of these experiences are great learning curves for the Blackhawks’ youth, and coach Joel Quenneville likes how they’re progressing, not just with scoring but with their overall games. “That’s the part that’ll make them better players and us a better team is playing the right way defensively, being responsible, putting the puck in good areas and going hard to the net.”

2. Top line still too quiet. Line changes were made but the results remained the same, especially for the Blackhawks’ top trio. Ryan Hartman and Richard Panik were up there with Jonathan Toews in this one, but still nada. The three had a combined three shots for the game. Many of you have asked if Toews is still dealing with that back injury. On Tuesday morning he said, “no, it’s been really good, actually.” Still, there’s something up with a top line that, regardless of combination, just can’t get anything going.

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3. Terrible second period. The Blackhawks came out of the first in great shape and with a 2-1 lead. But things got messy in the second period. Be it the inability to clear or get the puck deep in the Avs’ zone, the Blackhawks made mistakes. The Avs capitalized, scoring three goals in the second including two in a 63-second span. Outside of Tanner Kero’s goal, the Blackhawks had a forgettable second period. The Avalanche outscored them 3-1 and outshot them 8-4 in the second.

4. Faceoffs lost. The Blackhawks did not do well in this department, winning just 23 percent of their faceoffs. It didn’t cost them the game but they certainly need better nights than they got on Tuesday.

5. Corey Crawford gets through it. Crawford was stellar prior to his appendectomy but hasn’t been at that level since. Quenneville said he considered pulling Crawford during this one but decided to keep him in. Quenneville’s still happy with his goaltending – again, the Blackhawks aren’t where they are right now without it this season. But he said Crawford could be better than he was on Tuesday.

Artem Anisimov ill, status uncertain against Wild

Artem Anisimov ill, status uncertain against Wild

Artem Anisimov is sick and his status right now is unknown for Sunday when the Blackhawks host the Minnesota Wild.

Coach Joel Quenneville said he'll see how Anisimov feels on Sunday morning. Following Saturday's practice, Quenneville said the Blackhawks "could" go with seven defensemen if Anisimov couldn't play. But late Saturday afternoon the Blackhawks recalled Nick Schmaltz from the Rockford IceHogs. Schmaltz had nine points (six goals, three assists) in 12 games with the IceHogs.

Corey Crawford gets the start vs. the Wild, who the Blackhawks will see for the first time all season. The Wild, who are two points behind the first-place Blackhawks in the Western Conference standings, play the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.

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Meanwhile, Marcus Kruger, who was seen wearing a plastic cast on his right hand/wrist recently, still hasn't started to skate. Quenneville originally hoped Kruger would hit the ice on Friday but that didn't happen. The original three-week timetable on Kruger's return may be extended a bit. 

"Not sure exactly when he'll get on the ice," Quenneville said. "We'll see if that timeline, three weeks, may be a little bit longer. But it's in and around there."

Brent Seabrook fine, will play vs. Capitals

Brent Seabrook fine, will play vs. Capitals

Brent Seabrook did not practice on Thursday but he's expected to play Friday when the Blackhawks face the Washington Capitals.

Coach Joel Quenneville said Seabrook was, "fine," and that the defenseman would travel to Washington. Corey Crawford will start. The Capitals, coming off a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, have now won seven in a row.

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"This year [the Capitals] started off OK but now they have that extra gear," Quenneville said. "This will be a great test for us tomorrow. It's definitely going to be interesting."

Marcus Kruger, who's been out nearly two weeks, could skate on Friday morning. Quenneville said Kruger is still on the original three-week timetable to return.