Bringing players back into the fold usually yields great results.
The Blackhawks were hoping they’d get that when they welcomed Duncan Keith and Michal Rozsival back on Saturday night against the St. Louis Blues, and that’s what they got. They played a stronger game. They looked more balanced. They looked a little more like themselves.
So before we head back to Chicago, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 4-2 victory over the Blues.
1. Duncan Keith is back. Remember all that stuff about the Blackhawks watching his minutes? Who bought that? If you were one of those who knew it was going to take a crowbar to pry Keith off the ice, you’re correct. Keith, barely four weeks off surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, played 27 minutes, 34 seconds. Keith expects to play on Sunday against Calgary. Said Corey Crawford, “He looked pretty good out there. Playing that many minutes, it’s always tough no matter how much you do it in the gym or whatever. It’s always tough the first game back. It seems like you try to get that second wind when you come back but he was really good.”
2. Patrick Kane does it again. The Blackhawks were regaining momentum back late in the second period and thanks to Kane, they also regained the lead. Kane’s power-play goal, the eventual game-winner for the Blackhawks, was his 12th of the season. It also extended the forward’s point streak to 12 consecutive games, two shy of his career best. Said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock of the Blackhawks finding the late answers, “That’s what that team’s done… they make big plays at the right time. That’s why they win championships. If we want a piece of the pie in this division, in this conference, we’re going to have to have more people make big plays at the right time.”
3. Michal Rozsival returns. No, the veteran defenseman didn’t log Keith-like minutes – Rozsival played a little more than 13 minutes – but he brought stability to a defensive group that needed it. Coach Joel Quenneville said, “Rozi gives you real good patience back there, good play recognition, sees plays and has patience with the puck. It’s a different look with those two back there [Keith and Rozsival]… so welcome back to the two of them.”
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4. Others scored. This is what the Blackhawks needed more than anything: more guys contributing offensively. Andrew Shaw scored his second goal of the season, tipping a Keith shot early in the game. Trevor van Riemsdyk added his second of the season, scoring from the left point in the second period. Keith said, “it seemed like we had some good contributions from a lot of guys. A lot of good things out there and things that we can work on and build off of.”
5. This fight was OK. Quenneville talked recently of Jonathan Toews’ recent penchant for pugilism. He said it was a fine line on whether he wanted his captain involved in fights but on Saturday night, he agreed with Toews fighting David Backes. The Blues captain boarded Niklas Hjlmarsson early in the second period and Toews went after Backes. Hjalmarsson returned to the game after going to the locker room immediately after that hit.