Cleat Geeks

The Blackhawks Backhand

506127296_slideThe Blackhawks were on a win streak until they met the Tampa Bay Lightning last Thursday. They were defeated 2-1, ending their franchise-record winning streak at 12 games. Corey Crawford stopped 31 shots to keep the Blackhawks in the game, but it wasn’t enough to extend a career-best nine game winning streak for the goaltender.

“They were definitely the better team. We didn’t generate much. We didn’t get much traffic and pucks to the net and didn’t get the offensive zone time we like,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We had a few shifts, but they were few and far between.” The victory gave the Lightning split of the season series with the Blackhawks, who won last year’s Stanley Cup final against Tampa Bay in six games.

The Blackhawks traded Ryan Garbutt to the Anaheim Ducks for Jiri Sekac, adding young skill to theirtrade-640x426 roster. Sekac’s cap hit of $925,000 is just $25,000 more than Garbutt’s — but Sekac is in the last year of his contract, while Garbutt was signed through next year. The Blackhawks are trying to free up as much space as possible. They have now traded both players acquired in the Patrick Sharp trade, having sent Trevor Daley to Pittsburgh for Rob Scuderi. Both moves had cap implications. Sekac has just one goal and two assists in 22 games for Anaheim this season, after being acquired from Montreal at the trade deadline last season. He combined for nine goals and 14 assists in 69 games with the Canadiens and Ducks as a rookie. Garbutt had two goals and four assists in 43 games with the Blackhawks.

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On Tuesday, the Blackhawks announced that general manager Stan Bowman has received a contract extension that will keep him with the club through the 2020-21 season. He has been the general manager for all three of the Blackhawks’ recent Stanley Cups. Bowman’s extension comes not even two weeks after the team extended head coach Joel Quenneville, whose deal will run through 2019-20.

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The Blackhawks reassigned Mark McNeill Wednesday to Rockford after he was in the lineup for the 5-0 loss to the Hurricanes on Tuesday. McNeill made his NHL debut and played 12 minutes, 44 seconds in the loss. He was a first-round pick in 2011. McNeill made the trip to Carolina after Jiri Sekac did not because of an illness.

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