Despite the fact the Blackhawks were already hovering near the top of the West, theyve moved into a tie for the lead with the idle Wild thanks to two factors that had been preventing them from playing to their full potential.
For the third straight game, they got offensive contributions from players not named Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa or Patrick Kane. And for the first time since before the Circus Trip, they set the tone early and controlled the tempo most of the way at home. After all, they trailed at some point in all four home games since returning, going 2-1-1.
Ray Emery continued looking sharp in net -- and after originally thinking Corey Crawford might get a chance for a start in one of these two weekend games -- Im starting to think Joel Quenneville keeps going with Emery Sunday against Calgary and Tuesday in Pittsburgh before Crawford gets a shot Wednesday back at the United Center versus his hometown team, Montreal.
The special teams continued rolling the 1-for-3 power play improves their marksmanship to 18-for-59 the last 17 games. Another perfect night on the penalty kill brings that unit to 25-for-27 in the nine games since beating the Ducks in Anaheim the day after Thanksgiving.
The signs are pointing up. This team remains healthy, save for the Daniel Carcillo upper-body injury that the coach says isnt serious. They took it to a vulnerable team Friday night, and will try to hit the repeat button against a team in a similar state Sunday evening.
After staying out of the public eye since his historic emergency relief appearance, Scott Foster emerged in Vegas at the NHL Awards and it was perfect.
The 36-year-old accountant fittingly presented the Vezina Trophy award for the league's top goaltender and joked that he needed to speed it up because he had to get back to work.
Check him out on stage:
What a moment. And well done, NHL.
Foster stopped all seven shots he faced in 14:01 of action in the Blackhawks' 6-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on March 30.
Nashville Predators netminder Pekke Rinne took home the award, but you can't argue against Foster's 1.000 career save percentage.
From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.
Weight: 180 pounds
"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.