Blackhawks

Four takeaways: Corey Crawford steals the show in hometown of Montreal as Blackhawks win fifth straight

Four takeaways: Corey Crawford steals the show in hometown of Montreal as Blackhawks win fifth straight

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 2-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Saturday:

1. Hometown kid steals the show

Going into Saturday, Corey Crawford had an 8-2-2 record with a 1.67 goals against average, .949 save percentage and one shutout in 12 starts against the Canadiens. He also was 4-0-2 with a 1.32 goals against average and .964 save percentage in his hometown of Montreal.

Somehow, those numbers improved.

On a night where Carey Price was honored for becoming the Canadiens' all-time winningest goaltender (315), it was the hometown kid that stole the show. Crawford stopped all 48 shots he faced — 20 of which were from high-danger areas — for his second shutout of the season, and tied Dave Dryden for the most saves (48) in a shutout performance in Blackhawks history when he did so on Feb. 15, 1969.

It's the fourth consecutive contest Crawford has given up only one goal or fewer — although he left after two periods in Toronto because of an illness. He's stopped 115 of 118 shots for a save percentage of .975 over that span. 

2. Blackhawks silence one of NHL's top lines

The line of Phillip Danault, Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Tatar is one of the most productive in hockey.

When the three of them are on the ice together at 5-on-5 this season, the Canadiens control 62.7 percent of the shot attempts, 62.2 percent of the scoring chances and have a plus-19 goal differential, according to naturalstattrick.com. When they're not on the ice, the Canadiens control 52.3 percent of the shot attempts, 50.8 percent of the scoring chances and have a minus-2 goal differential.

On Saturday, that trio was on the ice for 10:39 of 5-on-5 time and controlled only 42.3 percent of the shot attempts and 36.4 percent of the scoring chances. They largely went up against the Blackhawks' first line of Brandon Saad, Dylan Sikura and Jonathan Toews, who generated 10 scoring chances for and two against. They set the tone.

3. Hot March continues for pair of Blackhawks

After being benched for four straight games, Brendan Perlini has bounced back in an enormous way. He scored a goal for the third straight contest, has eight goals in seven games this month and seven points (five goals, two assists) in his past three games. This wasn't even one of his stronger games, but he found a way to make an impact. And that's what the Blackhawks have been preaching.

Connor Murphy has also had a strong month of March. He scored his second goal in seven games, has a plus-5 rating over that span and has points in three of his last four. His goal against Montreal turned out to be the game winner, which was fitting on a day Chicago celebrated St. Patrick's Day.

4. Dylan Sikura knocking on the door

Sikura played in his 30th career NHL game on Saturday. He's still looking for his first goal. But when coach Jeremy Colliton shows him the tape of this game, he's going to be smiling from ear to ear. And so should Sikura.

The 23-year-old winger easily had his best game in a Blackhawks sweater, recording six shot attempts (four on goal), one takeaway, and was the only player with positive possession metrics for the Blackhawks. He was on the ice for 13 scoring chances for and only five against during 11:33 of 5-on-5 time. Six of those 13 scoring chances came from high-danger areas. He even hit a crossbar. 

If Sikura carries over this performance to Monday and beyond, he's bound to break through sooner than later.

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Behind the Numbers: Blackhawks third line driving possession against top competition

Behind the Numbers: Blackhawks third line driving possession against top competition

During the Blackhawks' training camp festival on Sept. 15, coach Jeremy Colliton discovered a combination he's grown to like in David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad. And it's the only trio that's stuck together through training camp and into the regular season.

On paper, it's not a sexy line. But they all bring different elements and it's translating to on-ice success.

When the three of them are on the ice together at even strength, the Blackhawks are controlling 59.7 percent of the shot attempts, 68.6 of the scoring chances and 76.9 percent of the high-danger chances, according to Natural Stat Trick. 

When they aren't on the ice at even strength? The Blackhawks are controlling 47.6 percent of the shot attempts, 46.2 percent of the scoring chances and 41.7 percent of the high-danger chances. 

Those are ridiculous numbers for a third line, and they're doing it against top competition, too.

On Saturday against Winnipeg, the Saad-Kampf-Kubalik line was tasked with going up against the Jets' Big Three of Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler and held them to three shots on goal for and three against in 14:06 of 5-on-5 ice time together. And on Monday against Edmonton, it kept one of the best lines in hockey in check, with Leon Draisaitl, Zack Kassian and Connor McDavid recording a minus-6 shot attempt differential in 15:25 of 5-on-5 ice time together.

The biggest mistake Colliton has made this season was separating the trio in the home opener after Kubalik scored a goal and recorded five shots on goal in the first period. He wanted to get the first line going and provide a spark by rewarding Kubalik, but the third line was dominant in the opening 20 minutes — it generated 10 scoring chances at 5-on-5 in only 4:30 together — and moving Kubalik away from Kampf and Saad really affected both lines in a negative way.

But don't expect Colliton to make that same mistake anytime soon. He learned his lesson and that's the last line he's going to touch if he's looking for a shakeup.

"They all just got real big motors, big engine," Colliton said. "They work and compete and they all bring a little bit different ingredient. Obviously like Saad is an accomplished, proven performer. He takes the puck to the net. He's a horse there. He's really hard to get the puck off, he transports it from D zone to the offensive zone, he can make those plays.

"I think Kampy is a workhorse. He takes a lot of responsibility defensively and can transport the puck from one end to another. Then you got Kubby, he's got a bomb. I've been very impressed with his play away from the puck. That's been a surprise for me. So now he can play on that line because he does so many responsible things. He wins a lot of races, he's a great forechecker. So, pleased with that line."

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Blackhawks honor Dave Bolland with “One More Shift” Friday

Blackhawks honor Dave Bolland with “One More Shift” Friday

Former Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland will be honored with “One More Shift” on the ice at United Center this Friday prior to Hawks matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Bolland will stand with the team during the National Anthem and skate on ice in full gear. Along with time on ice, the United Center will also honor Bolland by showcasing his career highlights throughout the arena.

The Blackhawks will be celebrating the 10 year anniversary of their 2010 Stanley Cup win at five games this season, coinciding with “One More Shift” nights to honor individual players.  The United Center Atrium doors will open at 4pm, giving fans a chance to look at the interactive photo opportunities and historical items on display. Bolland will participate in a Q&A in the atrium at 6:30 p.m. before he hits the ice.

Dave Bolland was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2004 and spent ten seasons of his NHL career in Chicago. Bolland played with the team during two Stanley Cup championships, scoring the game-winning goal in the final minute of Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals against the Bruins. Bolland played in all 22 playoff games in 2010, garnering 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) which shared fifth among Blackhawks skaters in the postseason. Bolland recorded his best season of his career during the 2008-09 campaign with the Blackhawks, skating in a career-high 81 regular-season games and recording career highs in goals (19), assists (28) and points (47).

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