KHL standout Artemi Panarin to sign with Blackhawks, but it’s NHL or bust

Jared Clinton
Artemi Panarin (via KHL/YouTube)

The Blackhawks have yet to make it official, but reports have surfaced that one of the most sought after KHL free agents is on the verge of inking a deal with Chicago. If he fails to make the Blackhawks, though, he’ll be heading right back to Russia.

According to Igor Eronko, a vice-president with SKA St. Petersburg, Panarin’s KHL club, confirmed that the 23-year-old winger has signed a deal that has an out-clause: if Panarin isn’t on Chicago’s roster next season, he is free to return to St. Petersburg. Read more

Your 2014-15 Norris Trophy finalists: P.K. Subban, Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson

Drew Doughty (Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL announced its three finalists in Norris Trophy voting this season - Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, Montreal’s P.K. Subban and Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty – and the fact none of the three were finalists in 2013-14 says something about the calibre of defenseman currently working in hockey’s top league. Read more

Corey Crawford gets the nod as Blackhawks’ starter for second round

Jared Clinton
Corey Crawford and Scott Darling (Bill Smith/Getty Images)

Even when the Blackhawks decided to go with Scott Darling for Game 3 of their first-round series against the Nashville Predators, it seemed inevitable that at some point, Corey Crawford would get back between the pipes as Chicago’s starting netminder. After shutting the door in the series-deciding sixth game in a relief appearance of Darling, Crawford’s chance to reclaim his starting role will begin with Game 1 of the Central Division final.

During Monday’s meeting with the media following a team practice, coach Joel Quenneville said that Crawford, not Darling who won three games of the first-round series, will be in goal when the Wild enter the United Center for Game 1 later this week.

“It’s his net,” Quenneville told Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune. “And let’s go.” Read more

Blackhawks pull off yet another incredible comeback, down Predators 4-3 to take series

Duncan Keith (Bill Smith/Getty Images)

It’s not often a team pulls their starting goaltender in the first period and goes on to win the game. It’s twice as rare that a team does it twice in one playoff series and skates away with two wins, let alone the series victory. Somehow, though, that’s exactly what the Chicago Blackhawks managed.

Early in the first period, the Chicago defense crumbled under the pressure from Nashville and Scott Darling, chosen to be the Game 6 start over Corey Crawford, was bombarded with quality scoring chance after quality scoring chance, surrendering three goals on 12 shots in 11:16. After the run of goals by the Predators – they were up 3-1 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the first period – Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville yanked Darling in favor of Crawford. From that moment on, Chicago controlled the play. Read more

Patrick Kane scores with six seconds left in first period on seeing-eye slapshot

PatrickKane

Blackhawks star Patrick Kane was questionable before the first-round series between Nashville and Chicago after having missed seven weeks with a broken clavicle. Surprisingly, Kane was in the lineup when the series began and his impact has been huge.

Through five games, Kane had found the score sheet in all but Game 3. Coming into a pivotal Game 6, after Chicago has scratched back from a 3-1 deficit to make it 3-2 late in the first period, the Blackhawks were set up in the Predators’ zone with next to no time remaining in the first frame. Brad Richards won the faceoff back to Duncan Keith, who touched it along to Kane. Without hesitation, Kane leaned into a slapshot that wasted no time finding the back of the net: Read more

Why this year’s NHL’s individual awards voting was the toughest ever

Filip Forsberg (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

As a member of the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association, I have the honor of casting a ballot for five of the NHL’s annual individual player awards (the Hart, Norris, Calder, Byng and Selke Trophies) as well as the league’s first-and-second-team All-Stars and Rookie Team. It’s something I never take lightly, and as such I canvass opinions on who I should vote for from as many NHL people – coaches, GMs, scouts, and players – before I submit my ballot. There’s usually not much consensus in any of the voting categories, but this year there was one thing everyone could agree on: the field of legitimate candidates for each award was so vast this year, voters are guaranteed to anger fan bases no matter which person they decide to support. Read more

Preds avoid elimination with win over Hawks in Game 5 – but viper’s den now awaits them in Chicago

Nashville's Filip Forsberg celebrates his goal with teammate James Neal behind Hawks goalie Scott Darling in Game 5 of Chicago's first-round series against Nashville Thursday. (John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

After an exhausting triple-overtime loss to Chicago Tuesday, the Nashville Predators were down 3-1 in their first-round series against a Hawks squad comprised of big-game players. Sure, they’d be playing before a supportive home crowd Thursday, but even the best fans on the planet aren’t going to beat Jonathan Toews & Co. The Preds needed a statement game of their own, and that’s what they got in a dominant 5-2 victory that included a hat trick from star rookie Filip Forsberg and a one-goal, two-point performance from winger James Neal.

Athough it wasn’t easy, that part will be a park’s walk compared to what lies ahead next: Game 6 Saturday night in Chicago, where rabid fans at the United Center will be pains in their ear, and Hawks players very likely will be pains in their rear. The Predators were unable to beat the Hawks in Chicago in both regular-season attempts and in Games 3 and 4, and one of the deepest Hawks teams in modern history is known for bending and not breaking.

A win is a win, but make no mistake: the pressure is all on Nashville now. They’ve got an appointment in the viper’s pit, and there’s enough snakes populating it to give their season a quick and painful demise. Read more

Hawks star Patrick Kane goes behind his back for astonishing spin-o-rama assist. Yes, you read that right.

Predators Ryan Ellis and Mike Santorelli fight for the puck with Blackhawks star Patrick Kane during Game 5 of Chicago's first-round series against Nashville Thursday. (Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

The Chicago Blackhawks fell 5-2 to the Nashville Predators in Game 5 of their first-round series Thursday night, but if there’s any solace to be taken for the Hawks, it’s that star winger Patrick Kane is looking like himself again – as evidenced by an astonishing spin-o-rama-style, backhanded assist on Kris Versteeg’s goal late in the third period.

The Hawks were trailing the host Preds 4-1 with five minutes left in the third period when Kane took the puck deep in Nashville’s zone, only to stop, spin and fire a backhanded pass to Versteeg, who slapped it past Predators goalie Pekka Rinne for his first goal of the 2015 post-season and Kane’s fourth assist: Read more