Five Things: Blackhawks' top line goes on a tear vs. Oilers


Five Things: Blackhawks' top line goes on a tear vs. Oilers

The Blackhawks have looked more like themselves, be it with strong goaltending or more spread-out scoring. They got a good amount of both on Thursday night when they beat the Edmonton Oilers, 4-0.

It was a good response following Tuesday’s game, when they were the recipients of the shutout. Now to find out if their fourth-line center is OK. But we’ll get to that and other items as we look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Edmonton.

1. The top line plays the part. It was a great night for Teuvo Teravainen, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, who each had three-point nights for the Blackhawks. Teravainen had two goals and an assist, Toews had a goal and two assists and Hossa had three assists. Teravainen is starting to play like a guy who knows he belongs in the top six. The hesitancy is starting to wane, and the points are starting to increase. That’s no coincidence. If these three can continue the chemistry, it could be a very potent line.

2. Corey Crawford records another shutout. Our apologies, Corey: You should have been included in the Three Stars (or we should have pushed for a fourth one or combined the top line as one, something like that). Anyway, Crawford stopped 33 shots to record his third shutout in his last four games. He now has the league lead in shutouts this season (five) and is going through arguably the best stretch of his career. After losing focus for part of this season, Crawford’s locked in right now.

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3. Is Marcus Kruger OK? That question remained unanswered on Thursday night after Kruger left the game with what looked like a left hand/wrist injury. Kruger might not be scoring this season, but he’s been a reliable fourth-line center and penalty killer for the Blackhawks. As Duncan Keith said, Kruger brings “all those little intangible things.” The Blackhawks will miss him if he misses any time.

4. Blackhawks stay out of the box. There were just two penalties in Thursday’s game, and both of them were against the Oilers. The Blackhawks’ kill has looked good lately, but they didn’t even have to utilize it in this one. As Crawford said, that helps the entire defensive game.

5. Niklas Hjalmarsson takes a licking. When Hjalmarsson went down in a heap after blocking Justin Schultz’s shot in the first period, it didn’t look good. It’s rare when Hjalmarsson stays down for any length of time or goes to the locker room, which he did after taking that Schultz shot to his left knee. Yet, there was the defenseman, back on the ice just a few minutes after that block. Guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

Blackhawks select Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick

Blackhawks select Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick

DALLAS — For the first time since drafting Patrick Kane first overall in 2007, the Blackhawks owned a top-10 pick in the NHL Draft. There was speculation that Stan Bowman might get aggressive and trade the No. 8 selection for immediate help if a deal made sense.

Instead, the draft couldn't have unfolded more favorably for the Blackhawks, who elected to keep the pick and drafted defenseman Adam Boqvist.

“You can never have enough D," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said on the NBCSN broadcast. "He moves the puck, he’s very active in the play, very dynamic in a lot of ways. He can help our power play down the road, I am looking forward to seeing how he does in the summer and going into camp."

"There’s opportunity here on the back end with our team, and it’s going to be competitive along the way, but certainly you got a guy that can move the puck and get involved offensively, those guys are hard to find.”

Boqvist is a 5-foot-11, 168-pound right-handed shot blue-liner who's drawn comparisons to Erik Karlsson, given his offensive ability.

"I know they have lots of Swedish defensemen," Boqvist said of the Blackhawks. "They played pretty well as a team and like to have the puck, you know, [Patrick] Kane. Yeah, I like it."

He compiled 24 points (14 goals, 10 assists) in 25 games for the Brynas J20 squad in the SuperElit league, and added three goals and two assists in three playoff games. But his production dropped off when he moved up to the Swedish Hockey League, where he registered only one assist in 15 games.

As we mentioned in our NHL Draft Profile this week, there are a few concerns about Boqvist.

He's only 17 years old and his defensive work needs improvement, meaning the Blackhawks must be patient with his development. He's also sustained a couple head injuries over the course of his young career, which adds some risk to the equation.

But there's clearly major upside if you're being compared to Karlsson.

"I think I need to improve my defensive play and need to be bigger and stronger," Boqvist said. "Of course, my offense can be better, too, so almost everything."

Boqvist joins Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell as the team's top three defensive prospects, all of whom have right-handed shots.

Stan Bowman: Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford 'progressing like he normally would'

Stan Bowman: Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford 'progressing like he normally would'

Stan Bowman likes where Corey Crawford is at this state of the offseason, he said Friday prior to the NHL Draft.

Speaking with NBC Sports Chicago's Pat Boyle, Bowman noted that while Crawford hasn't begun doing any on-ice work, that isn't unusual for players this early.

"We’ve been in contact with Corey and I think he’s been progressing like he normally would," Bowman said. "Most guys don’t do a lot of on-ice work the first couple of months of the offseason.

"Typically they get back on the ice sometime in July, some guys don’t skate until August. I think that’s sort of the plan for Corey as we go along here. I would say he’s right on the normal schedule for the offseason and we’ll just see how that goes."

That's good news for the Blackhawks, who sorely missed Crawford a year ago. The three-time Stanley Cup champion appeared in just 28 games, earning a 16-9-2 record and a 2.27 GAA.