Blackhawks

Blackhawks getting more balanced scoring

Blackhawks getting more balanced scoring

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.”

Snake-bitten Blackhawks light the lamp Saturday

Snake-bitten Blackhawks light the lamp Saturday

Three unlikely heroes emerged in Calgary on Saturday night to help the Blackhawks find some footing near the end of their five-game road trip (currently 1-3-0) that wraps up Sunday in Winnipeg.

Blackhawks rookie center Kirby Dach hadn't scored a goal in six games; Alex DeBrincat had one marker in his last nine after finishing last season with 41; Alex Nylander had one goal in his past 17 contests.

The trio bounced back against the Flames to help the Hawks to an 8-4 victory.

Nylander scored twice, and DeBrincat and Dach each had a goal.

"It’s a learning process for us that [haven't] been through this," Nylander said after the game. "And we are lucky that we have these vets that are on our team that can help us and see that something like this in the season happens."

Related: Blackhawks' offense explodes in Calgary

Of all the Hawks who have gone cold this season, the most surprising was DeBrincat, who posted 41 goals last season and 28 as a rookie the year prior.

"I've been fighting with the puck a little bit too much," he said. "Even today, I didn't really play that well, but finally got rewarded."

Six points out of a playoff spot, having the three forwards off the schneid could be a big factor in the Hawks putting a streak together to keep their playoff hopes alive.

"Those guys, they have the ability to chip in for us offensively and if they can do that it's going to make a big difference for us," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said of the three. "Ultimately, it comes down to their work ethic away from the puck."

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews felt Dach, DeBrincat and Nylander gave the Hawks a much-needed lift on Saturday.

"For guys like that and the way they think, the way they play the game, their skillset, scoring goals gives you a ton of energy, it gives you a lift," Toews said. "It's nice to see them get a few and see a few pucks go in.

"I think even if you're just on the ice, you have nothing to do with the play, just to be around goals is infectious. So it's nice to see those guys make those plays as a result of their hard work and it's an incentive to keep doing the same thing."

Hopefully the goal infection spreads for the Hawks. Despite being six points out of the playoffs, Chicago has three games in hand on the Arizona Coyotes, who occupy the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.

With 24 games remaining, scoring contributions will have to come from across the board for the Blackhawks to go on a successful run to secure a playoff spot.

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Andrew Ladd joins Blackhawks All-Decade Team

Andrew Ladd joins Blackhawks All-Decade Team

The Blackhawks got a big lift out of skilled and scrappy forward Andrew Ladd during his first three seasons with the Blackhawks. 

Ladd was selected at No. 4 overall in the 2004 NHL Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Maple Ridge, British Columbia native won a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 before coming to Chicago in a trade for Tuomo Ruutu on Feb. 26, 2008. 

In four seasons with the Blackhawks, Ladd displayed strength on both sides of the puck, recording 111 points and a +/- rating of +29 in 203 games.

In 19 games during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, Ladd had six points (three goals, three assists) and a +/- rating of +4.

Related: Versteeg joins Blackhawks All-Decade Team

After the Hawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, Ladd was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers for Ivan Vishnevskiy and a 2011 second-round draft pick in a salary cap move. 

Ladd was traded back to Chicago with Matt Fraser and Jay Harrison for Marko Dano and two draft picks on Feb. 25, 2016. He had 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in 19 games in his final season with the Hawks. 

Following the 2015-16 season, he became a free agent and signed a seven-year contract with the New York Islanders.

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