NHL

March 14, 2019, 8:59 pm

Why the Blackhawks are the most entertaining team in the NHL

The last 3 weeks have proved that the Blackhawks have go must-watch television for reasons that drive their fans crazy.

Why the Blackhawks are the most entertaining team in the NHL
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Why the Blackhawks are the most amusing team in the NHL

AP Why the Blackhawks are the most amusing team in the NHL By Charlie Roumeliotis March 14, 2019 10:00 AM

The Blackhawks are doing it again. They’re flirt with the city of Chicago, whose fans just astir wrote the playoffs off for the a ordinal time only to see their team rattling off four sequent victories and pull inside four points of a wildcard spot with 12 games left.

The Blackhawks keep tugging on the heartstrings, and they’ve go must-watch television because you don’t know which team you’re active to get. Actually, you do. It’s both Jekyll and Hyde.

The Blackhawks are who we deliberation they are: A team that can mark a touchdown, but also give one up in the same game. It’s why they’re the most amusing team in the NHL correct now because it doesn’t substance what the mark is, how big their lead or shortage is, etc. Nothing is safe.

Just take a look at the last 3 weeks alone:

— Feb. 18 vs. Ottawa: The Blackhawks trailed twice, held aggregate multi-goal leads, both goalies were pulled, and won 8-7 in a game that featured nine first-period goals.

— Feb. 20 at Detroit: The Blackhawks took a 4-1 lead into the third period, allowed 3 unanswered goals, then rebounded in overtime when Patrick Kane markd the game winner to make it 5-4.

— Feb. 22 vs. Colorado: The Blackhawks trailed on 3 separate occasions, rallied twice, but came up short and lost 5-3 thanks to an empty netter that sealed the deal.

— Feb. 24 vs. Dallas: The Blackhawks went down 3-0 ... then tied it at 3-3 before losing 4-3. 

— Feb. 27 at Anaheim: The Blackhawks took the lead twice, lost it in the third period, then markd a pair of goals in the final five minutes, including one with 17 seconds left to win 4-3.

— March 2 at Los Angeles: The Blackhawks fell behind 3-0, markd 3 unanswered to tie it up at 3-3 ... then allowed 3 unanswered to lose 6-3 against the last place team in the Western Conference.

— March 3 at San Jose: The Blackhawks trailed twice, tied it up both times, then gave up 3 unanswered third-period goals in 5-2 loss.

— March 7 vs. Buffalo: The Blackhawks went up 2-0, then fall behind 3-2 and 4-3 before tying it up and winning 5-4 in a shootout.

— March 9 at Dallas: The Blackhawks decided to turn in one of their best defensive performances of the season, winning 2-1 in Dallas with all 3 goals coming in the first period. It was the first time in 29 games the Blackhawks had allowed only one goa.

— March 11 vs. Arizona: The Blackhawks explode for seven goals behind Brendan Perlini's first career NHL hat trick to beat the Coyotes 7-1 after Arizona had won eight of their previous nine games.

— March 13 at Toronto: The Blackhawks markd five sequent goals then gave up four straight, but hang on to win 5-4. They were outshot 30-12 in the third period after outshooting the Maple Leafs 27-18 in the first two periods.

Basically what we’re saying is: Don’t be late for a Blackhawks game. And don’t be so quick to turn it off, either. Because just when you deliberation the game has been decided, the script completely changes.

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks survive Maple Leafs push, inch closer to playoff picture

USA TODAY Four takeaways: Blackhawks survive Maple Leafs push, inch closer to playoff picture By Charlie Roumeliotis March 13, 2019 9:15 PM

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday:

1. Owning the start

"It was a measuring stick game. That's the best team in the league and we didn't come ready to play. They pretty much just slapped us. ... The effort just wasn't there at times. I deliberation in the third period we just quit. That's on us as players, we gotta wake up."

That was Auston Matthews on the effort the Maple Leafs turned in two nights ago against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who handed them a 6-2 loss in their barn. So the Blackhawks were expecting the home team to fly out of the gates.

But it was the road team that actually did, with the Blackhawks scoring four sequent first-period goals to open the game (and later a fifth in the second period), prompting the boo birds to rain in Toronto for the second straight contest. It was the first time since Jan. 18 and 20 that the Maple Leafs lost back-to-back games in regulation.

2. Surviving the push...

When you mark five straight goals, the most dangerous thing you can do is sit on that lead, especially against a high-powered offense like the Maple Leafs, who showed that in their first meeting on Oct. 7 in Chicago. The Blackhawks didn't necessarily take their foot off the gas, but they were certainly preparing for a push back and that's exactly what happened. Particularly in the third period.

Corey Crawford, who stopped 17 of 18 shots in the first two periods, was removed from the game at the start of the third period because of an illness. Collin Delia came on in relief and faced 30 shots in the third period alone, 3 of which found the back of the net as the Maple Leafs cut their shortage to 5-4. It's the second time this season the Blackhawks have allowed at least 30 shots in a period, with the first coming on Oct. 21 when they gave up 33 in the second period to Tampa Bay.

But the Blackhawks barely hung on to secure the two points. They made it much closer than it needed to be.

3. Breaking down the numbers

Going into Wednesday, the Maple Leafs were, by far, the No. 1-ranked team in even-strength scoring chances for per game at 27.1, according to naturalstattrick.com. The Blackhawks were dead last in even-strength scoring chances allowed per game at 26.2, 11.9 of which have been high-danger chances. And it showed.

The Blackhawks gave up a season-high 95 total shot attempts and 58 scoring chances at even strength to the Maple Leafs, 18 of which were high danger chances. Fifty of the 95 shot attempts and 26 of the 58 even-strength scoring chances came in the third period.

The Blackhawks were outshot 30-12 in the third period after outshooting the Maple Leafs 27-18 in the first two periods. The tides completely turned in the final frame, and fortunately for the Blackhawks, they built a big enough lead to help them survive.

4. Inching closer to playoffs...

Just when you deliberation they're out of it, the Blackhawks find a way to climb back into the playoff race. It happened in February, and it's happening again now in March. 

With the win, the Blackhawks have picked up eight out of a possible eight points in their past four games and have pulled inside four points of the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference. The 3 teams they're chasing each have 12 games remaining, just like the Blackhawks, so there's still some ground to be made up.

But they're much closer than they were after the Blackhawks looked dead in the water following their West Coast trip. Can they continue their run into April?

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Blackhawks ink prospect Philipp Kurashev to entry-level contract

Blackhawks ink prospect Philipp Kurashev to entry-level contract By Charlie Roumeliotis March 12, 2019 1:03 PM

The Blackhawks have agreed to terms with forward Philipp Kurashev on a 3-year, entry-level contract that runs through the 2021-22 season and carries a cap hit of $925,000. He will finish out the season with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL.

Kurashev joins Nicolas Beaudin, Adam Boqvist and MacKenzie Entwistle on the list of Chicago prospects to have signed their entry-level contracts but remain with their junior teams. Unlike the other 3, Kurachev is not a slide candidate — a provision in the CBA that allows teams to push the contract one year if the player doesn't skate in at least 10 NHL games — so there's a chance he could start next season in Rockford when his contract kicks in. Or better yet, even push for a roster spot with the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks acquired Nashville's fourth-round pick last season as part of the Ryan Hartman deal and used it to select Kurashev at No. 120 overall. And the early returns are showing he could be a hidden gem.

As alternate captain for the Remparts, Kurashev leads the Remparts in all 3 scoring categories with 28 goals, 34 assists and 62 points in 57 games this season. He's averaging 0.97 points per game throughout his 3-year career in Quebec, and has eight points (two goals, six assists) in 10 career playoff games.

But it wasn't until the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championships when Kurashev put himself on the radar.

Serving as the alternate captain for Team Switzerland, he led the tournament with six goals, finished tied for seventh with seven points and earned first-team All-Star honors. He was also named Player of the Game twice, highlighted by a hat trick in a 4-0 win over Denmark.

Kurashev has quickly go one of the Blackhawks' more exciting forward prospects, and it may not be too long before Chicago gets a glimpse of him in an Indianhead sweater.

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