Vinnie Hinostroza was understandably exuberant after scoring the game-winning goal against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night. It was great for him individually – his first goal since Nov. 19 – but also for the team, which is seeing more balanced and depth scoring.
“It’s obviously been great when you can get four lines to score,” said Hinostroza, who also scored against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday. “We’ll always have those two lines that will provide offense so it’s nice when the third and fourth lines chip in a little bit.”
Not too long ago we were bemoaning the Blackhawks’ scoring issues.
Oh, they’ve been pretty consistent in the winning category, even when the offense was anemic. They were always getting just enough to help the great goaltending. But lately, that scoring has come back in full force. The best part about it for the Blackhawks is, it’s not the usual suspects every game. Young guys, unsung guys, struggling-to-score guys, the Blackhawks are getting goals from all of them.
Last year one of the Blackhawks’ biggest problems was a bulk of their offense was coming from their second line of Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane. Those three are still doing well. Panarin, the NHL’s first star of the week, is coming off 10 points in four games. Anisimov, nursing an upper-body injury, has 14 goals and Kane has 10 goals, including one in each of his last two games.
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
But this year they’re getting help. Hinostroza has two goals in as many games. Dennis Rasmussen has two in his last six games. Trevor van Riemsdyk, Richard Panik, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith, Brian Campbell and Ryan Hartman have all scored goals in recent games.
And they’ve won games, too. Here are the game winners for the Blackhawks’ current five-game winning streak:
vs. Dallas Stars Artem Anisimov
vs. New York Rangers Artem Anisimov
vs. New York Islanders Richard Panik
vs. St. Louis Blues Vinnie Hinostroza
vs. San Jose Sharks Ryan Hartman
Not bad, really.
The Blackhawks have been fairly steady all season despite issues they’ve had in their game. They can win games 1-0 and 2-1 but getting more offense is always welcomed. It was going to take time to get more balance on the lines, especially with so many young players in the lineup this season. But that balance is developing nicely, and the amount of players contributing goals has kept the Blackhawks rolling.
“It’s huge,” said Scott Darling, the beneficiary of the Blackhawks’ latest offensive outbursts. “We need everybody contributing and our big guys always do it. It’s nice for the other guys to help and while they’re still doing their job defensively.”