Alex DeBrincat

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The Buzzer: Brawls, Larkin’s hockey genius

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Player of the Night: Artem Anisimov

As you can read about here, Artem Anisimov enjoyed the best night of a hectic game between the Blackhawks and Rangers, generating the first hat trick of his career. That contest presented some twists and turns, with Chicago ultimately coming out on top 6-3.

Anisimov and Alex DeBrincat have been providing a big chunk of the Blackhawks’ offense lately, and its been much needed. Even while taking a lull of three games without a point in mind, the 29-year-old has eight goals and one assist in his past nine contests.

Highlights of the Night: On a Larkin

That wild line brawl between the Flames and Red Wings didn’t just take some spotlight from Detroit’s 8-2 win; it also might have distracted people from an impressive night via Dylan Larkin, a player who clearly seems to be back on track for a Red Wings team that could be feistier than many expected.

The top highlight features Larkin’s remarkable sense of timing and hockey geometry. (Was he good at geometry at school? If so, I’m jealous.)

The second reminded me of some early moments in Sidney Crosby‘s career, as Larkin used his skating ability and smarts to turn on the jets, only to make a sudden stop, assess the situation, and create a splendid play.

Some nights, Larkin is skylarking like vintage XTC. If you’re interested in violence, the real highlight of the game really was that brawl, though. If so, head here.

(Note: Johnny Gaudreau is on a hot streak of his own, albeit without the W-related results he wanted tonight.)

Caveats of the Night: The Ducks deserve a heap of credit for sticking with it, even as injuries seem to keep mounting. Or at least, might continue to mount.

Wildly underrated defenseman Hampus Lindholm is now dealing with a lower-body injury, while Corey Perry seemingly bounced back from this:

I say seemingly because, sometimes a player will return to a game in the heat of the moment. Then, when they wake up in the morning and/or have a doctor look at an injury, they realize something’s wrong and miss time. Kris Letang scored a game-winner injured, Paul Kariya famously bounced back from the Scott Stevens hit he can’t even remember, and so on. So we’ll see.

For a Ducks team that is besieged by injuries, so this is troubling.

The Ducks keep scrapping and, in this case, winning, though.

Factoid of the Night: The Mike Green resurgence: still pretty delightful.

Not enough is being made about John Gibson‘s continued climb up the goalie ranks. Where would Anaheim be without him (spoiler: probably the cellar):

Scores and more

Red Wings 8, Flames 2

Blackhawks 6, Rangers 3

Ducks 4, Bruins 2

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Anisimov scores first hat trick, Blackhawks end Rangers’ win streak

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Artem Anisimov scored his first career hat trick to help the Chicago Blackhawks put end to the New York Rangers’ six-game winning streak in a 6-3 win on Wednesday.

Anismov, facing his former team, converted at 1:07, 5:14 in the final frame, with John Hayden‘s second of the season sandwiched between both to take a 4-1 lead early.

The quick succession of goals forced Alain Vigneault’s hand as the head coach pulled Henrik Lundqvist in favor of backup Ondrej Pavelec. Lundqvist had featured in all six of the Rangers wins during the streak and stopped 30-of-34 shots in the game, but New York needed a boost.

The change in goal did the tick and woke the Rangers up from their slumber. Goals from Kevin Hayes and Rick Nash came 4:48 apart, bringing the game back from the brink and the Rangers to within one at 4-3.

New York’s hope was short-lived, however.

Anisimov wasn’t finished with his old team and sent hats flying onto the ice at 16:12 after tipping home a centring pass from Michal Kempny.

It was quite the turnaround for the Blackhawks, who trailed 1-0 with less than a minute to go in the second frame.

The Rangers looked to have escaped the barrage in the second, with Blackhawks piling on the pressure to the tune of 16 shots. But Lundqvist’s could only negotiate 15 of them as Alex DeBrincat‘s wrist shot trickled through Lundqvist’s pads at 19:08 to cancel out Mike Zibanejed’s first-period marker (a thing of beauty following Chris Krieder’s backhand filthy pass.)

New York had a prime opportunity to push their 1-0 advantage in the first period as Hayden took a high-sticking double minor, but the Rangers were unable to convert as Corey Crawford turned aside all five shots the Rangers sent his way.

Crawford, who hadn’t won in his previous three starts, stopped 25-of-28 en route to his eighth win of the season, even with his shaky third period.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck.

The Buzzer: DeBrincat leads Blackhawks comeback; Zucker’s crazy goal streak

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Player of the night: Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks. What made the Chicago Blackhawks a mini-dynasty a few years ago wasn’t just the fact they had a bunch of top-line players and superstar talents. That helped a lot, sure, but it was also the fact they always seemed to have a great complementary cast of players around those superstars. Often times young players on cheap, entry level deals. They might have another one in Alex DeBrincat.

After dominating the Ontario Hockey League the past couple of seasons DeBrincat has made the jump to the NHL this season and is starting to make an impact in the big leagues.

He played perhaps his best game of the season on Saturday night in helping the Blackhawks erase a 3-1 deficit in their 4-3 overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Debrincat scored two goals to help get the game to overtime then picked up one of the helpers on Brandon Saad‘s game-winning goal.

He now has 10 points in 17 games this season but has been really starting to pick up the pace in recent games with six points in his past six games.

He looks like he might be a steal of a second-round pick. The only reason he was not picked higher is probably the simple fact he is “undersized.”

Highlight of the night.

The Columbus Blue Jackets were 2-1 shootout winners over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night. They were able to win in the shootout because starting goalie Sergei Bobrovsky did this in overtime.

Bonus highlight of the night.

Hey how about one more awesome save. New Jersey Devils defenseman Andy Greene made the second best save of the night, sliding across the goal crease to give his goaltender a helping hand. This turned out to be a huge play because the Devils held on to win by a 2-1 margin.

Factoid of the night.

The Minnesota Wild were 1-0 winners on Saturday night over the Philadelphia Flyers thanks to a goal from forward Jason Zucker, his team-leading ninth of the season.

He has scored six of those goals over the past three games.

Why is that so noteworthy? Because he is the only Minnesota Wild player to score a goal in those three games, scoring each of the team’s past six goals.

Amazingly, the Wild have won two of those games thanks to his goal-scoring and a pair of shutouts from Devan Dubnyk.

Misc.

— No Auston Matthews? No problem for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Their 4-1 win over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night was their third in a row without their leading scorer and best player.

— Playing in his first game with the Nashville Predators Kyle Turris scored his first goal with his new team.

Mike Hoffman‘s two goals were the difference in the Ottawa Senators’ 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Sweden.

Scores

New York Rangers 4, Edmonton Oilers 2

Ottawa Senators 4, Colorado Avalanche 3

New Jersey Devils 2, Florida Panthers 1

Minnesota Wild 1, Philadelphia Flyers 0

Chicago Blackhawks 4, Carolina Hurricanes 3

Columbus Blue Jackets 2, Detroit Red Wings 1

Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Boston Bruins 1

Montreal Canadiens 2, Buffalo Sabres 1

New Islanders 5, St. Louis Blues 2

Nashville Predators 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 3

San Jose Sharks 5, Vancouver Canucks 0

Winnipeg Jets 4, Arizona Coyotes 1

PHT Morning Skate: How does the Quick contract look six years later?

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Marc-Andre Fleury, who has been out with a concussion, skated at the Golden Knights’ practice facility on Wednesday. It sounds like he could be activated off injured reserve as soon as Friday. (sinbin.vegas)

–Isles owner John Ledecky went the extra mile to make a young fan have the time of his life at two home games. The fan got the VIP treatment simply because he went out to the city in his Islanders jersey. (silive.com)

–Puck Junk has a book review on “The O-Pee-Chee Hockey Card Story”. The company went from selling gum, to adding player cards in 1933-34. (puckjunk.com)

John Carlson was forced to take a faceoff during the overtime period of Monday’s game against Arizona. He didn’t win it (he looked awful doing it), but it didn’t come back to haunt his team. Now, the Capitals are thinking about making some changes to the way they approach 3-on-3 overtime. (NBC Sports Washington)

–Former Kings GM Dean Lombardi has been criticized for the contract he gave Jonathan Quick six years ago. But when you compare the deal to others around the league, you realize that it isn’t so bad. It’ll be interesting to see what it looks like as Quick gets older. (jewelsfromthecrown.com)

–Even though he isn’t lighting up the NHL, rookie Alex DeBrincat is focused on playing a complete game with the Blackhawks this season. He’s gotten some playing time with Jonathan Toews, which has also helped his development. “I think it’s good for me. I think learning when you don’t need to be breaking for, trying an offensive break and you’ve just got to play sound in the (defensive) zone,” DeBrincat said. “I think it’s definitely good for my development and learning where to be because he’s always talking and letting you know where to be.” (Sporting News)

–There’s no doubt that fighting is down in hockey and there are numbers to prove it. Less than 30 percent of games since 2012 have had a fight, which is remarkably low compared to previous years. (CBS Sports)

–Local merchants in Carolina have come out with a bunch of new products that they’ll be selling at Hurricanes home games this season. One of the items available for purchase are Hurricanes scented candles. Some of the proposed scents that were rejected were pretty unique. For example, there was unscented vanilla, Swedish fish, Cam Ward‘s glove, and many others. (section328.com)

Nico Hischier has been solid during his rookie season, but the Devils can do more to help him succeed, according to allaboutthejersey.com. For starters, they can take him off the top line (for now) and give him a more defined role on the man-advantage. (allaboutthejersey.com)

–November is “Hockey Fights Cancer” month, and there’s no denying that people in and around the Penguins organization have been affected by the disease. Mario Lemieux, Phil Kessel, Olli Maatta, former head coach Bob Johnson and Ashley Barrasso (Tom’s daughter) all showed remarkable courage in their respective fights against cancer. (thesportsdaily.com)

–The Predators’ bottom pairing of Yannick Weber and Matt Irwin played a big role in the team’s two wins in California. The fourth line of Cody McLeod, Frederick Gaudreau and Austin Watson also put together a solid performance during the trip. (ontheforecheck.com)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Blackhawks tweaks include putting DeBrincat with Toews

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Even in October, it’s tough to deny just how long an 82-game NHL season can be. (Especially when you check back in January.)

Sometimes you need to shake things up, and that’s especially true when the results aren’t coming. The Chicago Blackhawks’ offense has been a little hit-or-miss lately, so as NBC Sports Chicago’s Tracey Myers and others report, Joel Quenneville is getting out the fabled line blender.

As you can see from this eye-friendly set of lines via Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times, this marks an interesting opportunity for Alex DeBrincat, while Ryan Hartman gets bumped down to the fourth line:

(The defense is also seeing tweaks, as Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith won’t be attached at the hip for a while. Keith looks primed to roll with Jan Rutta while Seabrook’s partner is Gustav Forsling.)

It’s also intriguing that, despite having some success with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad, Richard Panik gets a look with Patrick Kane. But it’s especially fascinating to ponder how pint-sized wonder DeBrincat could fare with Toews and Saad.

If talk of line blenders didn’t make it clear enough, it’s unclear how long this might last.

“We’re just looking for some change, some excitement,” Quenneville said, according to Lazerus.

Fantasy hockey types might cringe after hopping on the Hartman bandwagon. The 23-year-old has nine points in 10 games, although half of those points came when the Blackhawks rampaged against the Pittsburgh Penguins to start the season with a 10-1 win. Hartman hasn’t generated a point in three straight games and only has a goal in his past five.

DeBrincat has been awfully quiet in his own right, too, as he adjusts to the NHL game. So we’ll see if these changes stick for a while; even if they do, these forwards probably shouldn’t rely too much on a specific combination, although coaches do tend to prefer at least keeping certain pairings together these days.

The Blackhawks host the Predators on Friday and face the Avalanche in Colorado on Saturday, so getting a little burst from these tweaks could be helpful during a back-to-back set.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.