Blackhawks-Wild Preview

Blackhawks-Wild Preview

The Chicago Blackhawks are off to the best start in the 86-year history of the franchise, led by a balanced offense, a strong penalty kill and reliable goaltending.

They'll look to continue their well-rounded play when they open a six-game road trip Wednesday night against the Minnesota Wild, who just put a stop to a three-game losing streak.

The Blackhawks (6-0-0) are one of two remaining unbeatens in the NHL, and they already have four road victories under their belt as they begin their longest trip of the season. Sixteen skaters have registered at least one point, including 10 with at least three.

Patrick Kane leads the way with nine, while Marian Hossa's five goals are a team best.

"I think everybody deserves credit," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Everybody's contributing. Everybody was where we wanted them to be. Everybody had good conditioning to start with. Special teams, Crow (Corey Crawford) in net, the team game. I'm pleased."

Their perfect record was in jeopardy Sunday against Detroit, but Nick Leddy scored in overtime for a 2-1 win. Chicago killed off all six of the Red Wings' power plays, improving to 22 of 23 this season.

"We could have been better, but at the same time six (games) in nine (days) could have been a factor," Quenneville said.

Crawford will make his sixth start of the season Wednesday, and he's been one of the best goalies in the league in the early going. His 1.78 goals-against average is nearly a full goal below his 2.72 GAA from 57 games last season.

"I like his approach to the season," Quenneville told the team's official website. "He seems prepared and he's shown that he wants to play and he's determined to be the best he can be. He's taken charge of games at critical times and made big saves."

Minnesota (3-2-1) stepped up at a big moment Tuesday in a 3-2 home win against Columbus. The Wild squandered a 2-0 lead and were in danger of their fourth straight defeat, but Pierre-Marc Bouchard came through with the winning score with less than six minutes left.

Of the Wild's 16 goals this season, it was only the fifth not generated by the top forward line of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley.

"Take pressure off the top guys, it's key," said Torrey Mitchell, who assisted on Bouchard's goal. "Secondary scoring is big. Guys are doing the right things and it's going to come around. There's no doubt in the locker room about that. But it's nice to get one, at least tonight."

Bouchard has two goals and is feeling good after playing only 97 games over the last three seasons because of concussions.

"It's pretty fun. The last few years have been pretty tough," Bouchard said. "It's good to be back and play those kinds of games and win some hockey games."

Chicago defenseman Michal Rozsival, who has two assists in three games, missed the last two contests with a lower-body injury, but Quenneville said he expects him to skate Wednesday morning.

Jonathan Toews has six points over his last three games against Minnesota.

The Blackhawks are 8-1-3 in the past 12 meetings - getting at least a point in each of their last seven trips to St. Paul - though the Wild took the final two matchups last season in shootouts while Toews was sidelined.

Blackhawks announce three new signings

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Blackhawks announce three new signings

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.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews lists Lincoln Park mansion for $3.9 million

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Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews lists Lincoln Park mansion for $3.9 million

Less than 18 months after buying a five-bedroom, 6,400-square-foot mansion in Lincoln Park, Jonathan Toews has put it on the market for $3.899 million. 

The Blackhawks captain is looking to downsize, according to the Chicago Tribune, but listing agent Kai Schirmacher said he plans to remain in the city.

Toews, 28, purchased the four-story home for $3.525 million several months after inking an eight-year, $84 million contract extension with Chicago in July 2014.

Check out pictures from when he first bought the mansion below:

Report: Blackhawks agree to terms with defenseman Michal Kempny

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Report: Blackhawks agree to terms with defenseman Michal Kempny

The Blackhawks have reportedly agreed to terms with defenseman Michal Kempny, according to ESPN's Craig Custance. It's a one-year, entry-level contract worth somewhere in between $575,000 and $925,000, according to generalfanager.com.

The 25-year-old Czech Republic native registered five goals, 16 assists and owned a plus-17 rating in 59 regular-season games this past season with Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League. He also racked up four points (two goals and two assists) and had a plus-7 rating in 11 postseason contests.

Kempny waited until after the 2016 IIHF World Hockey Championship ended before making a decision. He had two assists in eight games during the tournament, and was tied for the team-lead with a plus-7 rating. His performance was good enough to be named one of Czech Republic's best players.

Kempny is a 6-foot, 194-pound left-handed defenseman who's known for his puck-moving skills and his ability to play well at both ends of the ice.

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman spoke with Scott Powers of The Athletic earlier this month about the possibility of signing Kempny, and provided a quick scouting report on him:

“He’s a mobile defenseman,” Bowman said. “He’s got that mixture of offense and defense. I would call him a really well-rounded guy. He can defend well in his own end. Mobility, he’s a good skater. He can transition the puck. He can sort of play a well-rounded game, which I think as a defenseman, you’ve seen our team play a lot, you have to be able to defend for our coaches to be able to rely on you. He’s got that ability to sort of play both ways.”

Kempny gives the Blackhawks an NHL-ready defenseman with the potential to slot into a top-four role, or at least take some pressure off a blue line group that lacked the depth it's had in previous seasons.