The Blackhawks won’t be going for style points over these next few weeks. When you’re missing your top defenseman and vying for every point you can get in a competitive division, you’ll take them any way you can get them.
So it began on Thursday night, the first night the Blackhawks were without Duncan Keith. Their 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers was exactly what they needed and came thanks to the contributions of several. So before we call it a night, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory.
1. Big night for Brent Seabrook. It seemed fitting that Keith’s longtime defensive partner would have a stellar evening. Seabrook played the minutes (a team-high 26) and logged the points (power-play goal and two assists) on Thursday night. It’s not unusual to see Seabrook step up in a critical situation; he’s done it in plenty of games, especially in the postseason. But every little bit helps right now, and he gave a lot against the Panthers.
2. TVR handles the extra responsibility well. Van Riemsdyk didn’t get any forewarning from coach Joel Quenneville that he’d play big minutes on Thursday night. But he did, and he did well. Van Riemsdyk logged 22 minutes, 34 seconds, a career high for him. He was there on the power play and penalty kill. Paired with Niklas Hjalmarsson, van Riemsdyk looked poised. “I think you just see how the game goes, practice with partner there and just play the game,” van Riemsdyk said. “Obviously games are going to take weird turns but you have to be ready, just like every other game, and be as prepared as you can be.”
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3. The power play does its job. Well, sort of. The Blackhawks had eight of them on Thursday, including one with 2.2 seconds remaining in regulation. They only scored on two. But they kept solid possession on many of them, not allowing the Panthers to get much momentum even if they did kill off the Blackhawks’ threat.
4. Artem Anisimov scores again. The big center showed his power game in the first period when he barreled to the net and lifted a shot past Roberto Luongo, giving him his third goal of the season. Anisimov is filling that second-line center job well and is also giving the Blackhawks the net-front presence that they need. Marko Dano may be a future star for the Blackhawks, but Anisimov is getting it done right now.
5. Corey Crawford gets an assist. The Blackhawks goaltender got is first helper of the season, the secondary assist on Patrick Kane’s power-play goal in the third period. Seabrook figured Crawford was happy. “I think he had a smile underneath that birdcage he has on his head,” he said.