Five Things from Blackhawks-Ducks: Second- (or first-) line work

Five Things from Blackhawks-Ducks: Second- (or first-) line work

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Blackhawks had to reconfigure some lines with Jonathan Toews missing Friday’s game with an upper-body injury. But the loss of Toews goes way beyond who’s playing with who.

Still, this isn’t the first time the Blackhawks have had to pull together with a top player out, and it’s not the first time they’ve won with a top player out. Maybe it helped that they were in Anaheim, where they’ve done very well in this post-Thanksgiving matchup. But getting an early lead helped en route to their 3-2 victory over the Ducks on Friday.

But we’re stalling, aren’t we? Blame the tryptophan. Anyway, before we wrap up this Circus Trip tomorrow in Los Angeles, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory on Friday.

1. Second line becomes the top line. With Toews out, you knew the onus was going to fall on Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane. The trio looked better in this one – Anisimov figured their timing would be better in their second game together – and all three got on the score sheet (Kane a goal and assist, Anisimov goal and Panarin assist).

2. Secondary goal proves pivotal. The Blackhawks will take scoring from anyone but getting something from the third and fourth lines is always encouraged. Ryan Hartman provided that on Friday, scoring what would be the game-winning goal late in the second period. Give credit to Hartman, he played well on Friday, aggravating some of the Ducks – “I’ll say he has a little Shawzy [Andrew Shaw] in him,” coach Joel Quenneville said. He also has been producing, scoring his third goal on this road trip.

3. Bad faceoff day. Toews is, by far, the Blackhawks’ best faceoff man this season. So it was no great surprise that, in his absence, the Blackhawks were throttled at the dot. They won just 18 face-offs against the Ducks, who won 49. as Quenneville said, considering how many times they lost draws, he was happy with the Blackhawks not giving up a ton of quality opportunities until later.

[RELATED: Blackhawks hold off Ducks]

4. Corey Crawford rebounds. Crawford didn’t have his best stuff against Edmonton and gave up a bad one against San Jose. But he looked more like himself on Friday, stopping 34 of 36 shots. Crawford has found much success against the Ducks in his career; including Friday’s outing, he’s now 12-4-2 against them.

5. A great elixir. The Blackhawks needed to build off that game against the Sharks, which was actually a pretty good one. So nothing like this Black Friday game in Anaheim, which has been good to them for several seasons. Dating back to 2010, the Blackhawks have now won all five of these games against the Ducks.

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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