Blackhawks

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

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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.

Corey Crawford to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Capitals

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USA Today

Corey Crawford to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Capitals

Corey Crawford will start in goal for the Blackhawks when they take on the Washington Capitals at the United Center on Sunday, coach Jeremy Colliton confirmed after morning skate. This will be his fourth start in six games.

Crawford is coming off a game in which he stopped 27 of 28 shots for a save percentage of .964, which earned him the No. 1 star of the game in a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Monday. He stopped 10 of 11 shots and six of seven inner slot shots, saving his team an extra 2.43 goals above average, according to The Point. It was a fantastic performance.

Crawford is 3-5-2 with a 3.61 goals-against average and .881 save percentage in 10 career starts against the Capitals.

The Blackhawks are on the second game of a seven-games-in-12-days stretch, so expect Crawford and Lehner to both get consistent reps over the next two weeks.

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Blackhawks No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach set to make NHL debut on Sunday vs. Capitals

Blackhawks No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach set to make NHL debut on Sunday vs. Capitals

It's official: Kirby Dach is slated to make his NHL debut on Sunday when the Blackhawks host the Washington Capitals. He found out the news when he got to the rink in the morning.

"It's pretty exciting," Dach said. "Grew up my whole life wanting to do this, so for me to get this opportunity now, it's awesome. Kind of speechless and at a loss for words. I've just got to go out there and play my game and focus on all the little things that the coaching staff wants me to do."

Coach Jeremy Colliton said who Dach draws in for and where he will slot into the lineup will be determined during warmups, but don't be surprised if he starts on the wing.

"I think he can play either one, which is a big benefit for us," Colliton said. "Probably long term he’s a center, but it’s only a benefit to be versatile."

Dach, who was taken No. 3 overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, missed the start of training camp with a concussion and appeared in three games with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League for a conditioning stint before getting recalled on Friday. His mom, dad and sister will be in attendance for his debut.

"It's a pretty surreal feeling," Dach said. "It's kind of a whirlwind. You're just kind of getting thrown in right away and you don't really have time to react. You just got to focus on the game and not really sit back and realize what's going on. You've got to be pretty mentally dialed in and ready to play.

"There's going to be a little bit of nerves with it, but I'm excited to get out there and have fun."

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