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.