Despite the fact the Blackhawks were already hovering near the top of the West, theyve moved into a tie for the lead with the idle Wild thanks to two factors that had been preventing them from playing to their full potential.
For the third straight game, they got offensive contributions from players not named Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa or Patrick Kane. And for the first time since before the Circus Trip, they set the tone early and controlled the tempo most of the way at home. After all, they trailed at some point in all four home games since returning, going 2-1-1.
Ray Emery continued looking sharp in net -- and after originally thinking Corey Crawford might get a chance for a start in one of these two weekend games -- Im starting to think Joel Quenneville keeps going with Emery Sunday against Calgary and Tuesday in Pittsburgh before Crawford gets a shot Wednesday back at the United Center versus his hometown team, Montreal.
The special teams continued rolling the 1-for-3 power play improves their marksmanship to 18-for-59 the last 17 games. Another perfect night on the penalty kill brings that unit to 25-for-27 in the nine games since beating the Ducks in Anaheim the day after Thanksgiving.
The signs are pointing up. This team remains healthy, save for the Daniel Carcillo upper-body injury that the coach says isnt serious. They took it to a vulnerable team Friday night, and will try to hit the repeat button against a team in a similar state Sunday evening.
On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Tracey Myers and Pat Boyle discuss Nick Schmaltz returning to the Blackhawks line-up on Wednesday night and which player is looking forward most to his return?
They also weigh in on Corey Crawford’s incredible start to the season and why he’s the major reason why the Hawks begin the week in first place in the Central.
They also discuss who is the biggest Hawks rivalry right now, which new defenseman has impressed the most and how is Connor Murphy dealing with being a healthy scratch at times this season?
Plus, they discuss someone other than Nick Schmaltz returning to work on Wednesday night.
Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:
Eddie Olczyk will return to the broadcast booth for Wednesday's Blackhawks-Blues game, according to USA Today's Kevin Allen.
The news comes six weeks after the Chicago legend began chemotherapy for colon cancer. And although he made a brief, emotional return on Oct. 7 -- putting on the headset to join Pat Foley for a moment during intermission -- he will provide color commentary for the entire game on Wednesday. He'll call the rivalry matchup alongside Doc Emrick on NBCSN.
Olczyk, who grew up in Palos Heights and attended Brother Rice, will take the mic again the following night as the Blackhawks welcome the Edmonton Oilers to the United Center. As for the rest of the season, he plans to work when his health allows.
“We have some dates that we have highlighted and hopefully I will be strong to do the job,” Olczyk told USA Today. “If I am not feeling good, I just have to be honest with everyone and tell them I can’t do it.”
It'll be nice to see Edzo back at work, providing dynamite analysis and passing along tips to all those young hockey players out there.