NEW YORK — The Blackhawks are somewhat like our country: They’re (sort of) young, (kind of) scrappy and hungry, and they’re once again atop the Central Division.
Yes, if you’ve followed the last few weeks you’ve realized the passion for "Hamilton," that musical that has filled seats at Richard Rodgers Theatre here consistently and my Twitter timeline from time to time.
Hey, we’re always looking for a fresh approach to this column. So since we were fortunate enough to finally see the hottest show in New York, we’re coming at you with a Hamilton-inspired Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 5-3 victory over the New York Rangers.
1. The story of tonight. It seemed to be all special teams, all the time, whether you want to view it as potent power plays or inefficient penalty kills. After scoring four power-play goals against Toronto, the Blackhawks had three more against the Rangers, including the game winner. They also gave up two, as the Rangers tagged them twice during Vinnie Hinostroza’s double-minor high-sticking penalty. But they got one more than they relinquished, so they’ll call this a win.
2. Non-stop. Remember when Artemi Panarin was struggling to score? Yeah, we really don’t either. The Russian forward was stellar on Wednesday night, claiming his first career NHL hat trick. That included the winning goal as well as the one that established the two-goal cushion at the end. Panarin missed two games due to illness recently, but he’s gotten points in six of the last eight games he’s played.
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3. Satisfied. Coach Joel Quenneville was anything but that last week, when another coach’s challenge denied the Blackhawks another goal. But Quenneville challenged the Rangers’ apparent first goal on Wednesday night, claiming Chris Kreider interfered with goaltender Corey Crawford. Officials agreed, nullifying the goal and allowing the Blackhawks to maintain their 1-0 lead at the time.
4. Wait for it. The Blackhawks practiced some patience on their second power play, with Panarin, Erik Gustafsson and Michal Rozsival going through the passing motions for some time. Just when it seemed the passing was becoming a bit too much, Panarin laced one past Henrik Lundqvist. The lull worked.
5. What comes next? The Blackhawks will get their day at the White House for the third time since 2011. As Patrick Kane said, “being able to meet the President again and be a part of that whole ceremony, it’s an exciting day for all of us. I’m sure that the guys who are on the team now that have been part of it before will enjoy it, and the guys who weren’t here will try to do it again this year and be back again.”