Stan Bowman

Bowman says ‘Hawks open for business: “We’re looking to improve our team through trades”

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Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman appeared on “NHL Live” on the NHL Network Wednesday afternoon to talk about Jonathan Toews, his new gig with USA Hockey and, of course, what he’s doing on the trade front.

With the ‘Hawks sitting fourth in the Central Division, sixth in the Western Conference and 20th in the NHL in goals allowed per game (2.82), Bowman made no bones about his team needing to improve — especially on defense.

“I think there’s room for improvement” Bowman said. “We’ve had a good first 50 games for our group. We’ve put ourselves in a decent position going forward.

“We’re looking to improve our team through trades, but as you can see, there’s not a lot happening on that front. A lot of talking, but I think it will speed up a little bit as we get closer to the deadline. But right now, it’s a wait-and-see approach, and trying to find answers from within.”

Finding answers from within hasn’t been easy on the blueline. The ‘Hawks have missed the contributions of Brian Campbell (traded this offseason to Florida) and struggled to round out their top-six. Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Nick Leddy, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Steve Montador have all been regular fixtures in the lineup, but Montador only plays 15 minutes a night and the No. 6 spot has been a revolving door. Sean O’Donnell, Sami Lepisto, John Scott and Dylan Olsen have all had a turn, each with limited success.

It’s something Bowman recognizes as he looks to fill out the defense.

“We’ve got eight defensemen with us right now who I think all can play,” he said. “We’ve got a couple kids in the minors whom we’re high on and could also contribute, but if you’re looking for that proven NHL defenseman, that’s something we have to look at.”

“I’ve talked to a lot of general managers over the last few weeks, going back to December, just trying to get an idea of what they’re looking to do and I’ve tried to make it clear what we’re trying to do.

“I’ve had a lot of conversations and letting people know we’re willing to trade but there’s nothing happening at the moment.”

There’s been a lot of buzz around Chicago as the trade deadline approaches. Why? Well, Bowman’s been incredibly active on the trade front since taking the Chicago GM gig in July of 2009. He’s traded away the likes of Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Troy Brouwer and Campbell while acquiring draft picks and young prospects like Leddy, Viktor Stalberg and Michael Frolik.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (15) scores a goal against Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

Boston Bruins' Brad Marchand celebrates after scoring on a penalty shot during the overtime period of the Boston Bruins 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres in an NHL hockey game in Boston Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.

Video: Mika Zibanejad’s check to Tyler Bozak’s head

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Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).

The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.

You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.

It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.

Update: It didn’t get much better going forward; the Senators beat the Maple Leafs 6-1.