Once upon a time I received an email that started off, “You’re good, you’re not great.”
Besides being the greatest start of any email ever, that could also describe the Blackhawks on Saturday night: good, not great. As we’ve written here a few times already, however, that’s to be expected after all the offseason changes. Still, the Blackhawks did a few more things right in their 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
So while we all try to get past good and onto great, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory.
1. Marian Hossa is still a tremendous two-way player. Speaking of great… Hossa was already having a strong game on Saturday when he picked Matt Calvert’s pocket and scored a 5-on-3 goal that gave the Blackhawks a 3-0 lead at the time. The ageless Hossa never ceases to amaze those who see it on a nightly basis. “That was a pretty special play,” Corey Crawford said. “He didn’t quit on that one. We lost the puck at the blue line and he came back and did the rest.”
2. Brandon Saad’s emotional night. You wondered what the reaction would be when Saad returned to the United Center. He and the Blackhawks couldn’t work out a deal but Blackhawks fans greeted him with loud applause and a standing ovation during a first-period video tribute. Saad’s in a much different place now, playing for a Columbus team that’s gotten off to a surprisingly bad start. But Saad did some tremendous things in his time in Chicago, and fans showed how much they appreciated that on Saturday.
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3. A nice debut for Mr. Hinostroza. Vinnie Hinostroza was probably a jumble of nerves when he made his NHL debut on Saturday night but he looked pretty calm on the ice. He brought some stability and a threat to that third line, which had been mediocre through this early season. We’ll see if Hinostroza’s in the lineup when the Blackhawks play on Florida, but he certainly had an energetic start on Saturday.
4. Anisimov answers again. Artem Anisimov gets overshadowed playing with Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane. He’s the non-flashy, non-showy portion of that line. But he’s a steady part of that trio, a big body who will go to the net. He did that again on Saturday and earned his second goal of the season on another backhand shot.
5. Bickell “OK” on the top line. If you’ve listened to coach Joel Quenneville for any amount of time, you know that when he says a player is “OK,” as he said Bryan Bickell was on the top line on Saturday, he means player was not good. So, who’s next at that left-wing spot with Jonathan Toews and Hossa?