The Blackhawks penalty kill was a thing of beauty in the early season. Its ability to shut opponents down, and score a few short-handed goals to boot, had it ranked in the top five in October.
Then November hit and well, lets just say it dropped. A lot. But in recent games the Blackhawks kill has had the killer instinct again. And on Thursday night, it came up really big at a critical time.
The Blackhawks killed nearly two minutes of a 5 on 3 en route to their 3-2 overtime victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday. It was part of a 6-for-6 penalty kill performance for the Blackhawks, who are 17 of 21 on the kill in their last eight games.
The Islanders 5 on 3 came moments after they scored their first goal to cut the Blackhawks lead to 2-1. The Isles had the momentum and 1:56 on the two-man advantage; but despite four shots on goal, they came up empty.
We got six or seven clears in that time, goaltender Ray Emery said. So thats huge when those guys can put that effort in.
The Blackhawks penalty kill is getting better. No, its certainly not top five in the NHL anymore. Its more like 27th. But considering this teams kill was languishing in last for weeks, its recent performances are encouraging.
Our penalty killing been good for us lately, Duncan Keith said. Its something weve talked about, taking pride in that. Its starting to pay off and help win us hockey games.
Blackhawks forward Marcus Kruger and defenseman Ville Pokka were added to Team Sweden and Team Finland, respectively, as team rosters were completed for the World Cup of Hockey on Friday.
Christian Ehrhoff, who was traded to the Blackhawks during the season, was added to Team Europe.
Nine Blackhawks were already chosen for their respective country’s teams back in March: Corey Crawford, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith (Team Canada), Patrick Kane (USA), Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin (Russia), Teuvo Teravainen (Finland), Niklas Hjalmarsson (Sweden) and Marian Hossa (Team Europe).
Michal Kempny, a defenseman the Blackhawks signed earlier this week, was also named to Team Czech Republic in March.
The World Cup of Hockey will be held from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1 in Toronto.
It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that young hockey players are patterning their games off Patrick Kane.
But the next generation of scorers are modeling their post-goal celebrations after the Blackhawks star, too.
Check out this video of a kid in a youth hockey game mimicking Kane's celebration from this year's playoffs, when he scored the double-overtime winner in Game 5 of the Blackhawks' series against the Blues.
Not bad, kid!
Kane recognized the kid's celly game, tweeting the video out to his followers Friday afternoon.
The Blackhawks agreed to terms with goaltender Lars Johansson, defenseman Michal Kempny and forward Martin Lundberg on one-year deals on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old Kempny had 21 points (five goals, 16 assists) in 59 games with Avangard Omsk (KHL) last season. He had two assists in eight games with the Czech Republic in the IIHF World Championship.
Johansson, 28, spent the last three seasons with Frolunda HC (Swedish Hockey League). He was 56-27-0 over those three seasons. Last season, he had a league-leading 1.74 goals-against average and a 27-6-0 record.
The 25-year-old Lundberg had 13 goals and eight assists in 44 games with Skelleftea AIK (Swedish Hockey League). He also had two goals in eight games with Sweden in the World Championship.