Five takeaways from Blackhawks' shutout win over Wild: Power play getting better


Five takeaways from Blackhawks' shutout win over Wild: Power play getting better

ST. PAUL, Minn. – You can pretty much guess what No. 1 is, right? Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 2-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night:

1. More outstanding goaltending.

We discussed Corey Crawford in the main story so let’s look ahead: does Crawford start again when the Blackhawks host Montreal on Sunday? Coach Joel Quenneville said it’s “under consideration” following Crawford’s second consecutive shutout. But he has to weigh that against giving Anton Forsberg a chance to redeem himself from his tough outing in Colorado. The way Crawford’s playing, however, don’t be surprised if he’s in net again on Sunday.

2. The power play capitalizes.

OK, the Blackhawks’ power play still isn’t outstanding. It’s nevertheless ironic that the advantage has been responsible for the game-winning goals for two consecutive contests. Of course a lot of the credit still goes to Crawford for the shutout but getting anything on that power play right now is a bonus.

“We had a real tough stretch of scoring on the power play and all of a sudden you score two big ones, it certainly helps our standing and can help with some production going forward,” Quenneville said.

3. Fourth line creating again.

The Blackhawks have gotten good work out of the fourth line, whether it’s been John Hayden or Ryan Hartman on the right side. On Saturday he, Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels combined for seven shots on goal. On the other side of that…

4. The second line’s quiet night.

There wasn’t much doing for the trio of Brandon Saad, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane. Schmaltz had four shots on goal, and three of those were through the first 40 minutes. Saad didn’t get his first (and only) shot on goal until early in the third period. Kane also got his lone one in the third.

5. Artem Anisimov finding is game again.

Goals aren’t the only indicator of improved play, but they certainly help. Anisimov now has four goals in as many games, three of which have come on special teams (two power-play goals and a short-handed effort). Quenneville said Anisimov has been “way, way better” in recent games. His improved confidence could help get the power play going again.

NHL Draft Profile: D Noah Dobson

NHL Draft Profile: D Noah Dobson

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Noah Dobson

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 180 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"A very effective two-way defenseman with good puck distribution and a strong shot from the points on the power play. He is a point-producer with size, who defends and utilizes strong positioning and a good stick in the defensive zone."

NHL player comparable: Brent Burns

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks lacked defensemen that generated offense last year. They also lacked defenders than can ... defend. Dobson is a player who can do both, and if he slips past Vancouver at No. 7, the Blackhawks may have a difficult decision on their hands.

Dobson could solve some of those defensive issues, but it likely wouldn't be in time for the 2018-19 season. He needs time to develop properly.

The Blackhawks like to evaluate prospects based on what their ceiling is and where they're at in their development curve, and if they see major upside here, they'll go for it. It just depends if there's somebody available that they like better.

NHL Draft Profile: F Jesperi Kotkaniemi

NHL Draft Profile: F Jesperi Kotkaniemi

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Jesperi Kotkaniemi

Position: Center
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 189 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"Kotkaniemi has been a top-six forward for his league team in Finland all season and had a very solid U18 season relative to his historical peers in the league. He has very good hands that are high-end, if not flashing elite. He can make very skilled plays off an entry, but what impresses me is how well he can control the puck and keep plays alive."

NHL player comparable:

Fit for Blackhawks:

There isn't a player that has climbed the rankings in such a short amount of time than Kotkaniemi, who was initially projected to go outside the top 10 but could go as high as No. 3 overall. It's likely because there aren't many high-end centers in this draft, and he's the top one.

If Kotkaniemi happens to slip to No. 8, it may be hard for the Blackhawks to pass up on him. He's versatile, too, which is always a bonus, especially when playing under Joel Quenneville. But if they view him as a center, here's how the Blackhawks would look down the middle: Jonathan Toews, Nick Schmaltz, Kotkaniemi and Artem Anisimov.

Um, yeah. That'll work.