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.