Coach Joel Quenneville left New York on Friday night happier with the Blackhawks in Game 2 than in Game 1, but saying he needed to see more for Game 3.
“We have to be better,” he said.
On Saturday night, the Blackhawks were better. In their best all-around game of this early season – yes, we know three games is a small sample size – the Blackhawks got a little something from everyone in their 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders. It was a positive way to end the weekend for the Blackhawks, who won two of their first three to start the season.
So before we wrap up the weekend, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory on Saturday night.
1. The Arty Line is pretty good. This is becoming a broken record but one the Blackhawks will listen to incessantly. That line name, by the way, came from Quenneville. Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane have made a strong combination, and Panarin and Kane combined for six points (a goal, two assists each) on Saturday. All lines have their ups and downs. The Blackhawks will ride this one as long as it’s up.
2. Teuvo Teravainen looks more like himself. Teravainen has plenty of skill and he’s gotten better defensively. But he looked hesitant when on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. Perhaps he feels compelled to pass to those two as often as possible but on Saturday, centering the third line, Teravainen was showing the puck possession and shot that Quenneville wants to see from him. “He’s got that high-end ability to possess [the puck] and distribute it at the right times, draw attention and make sustained plays,” Quenneville said. “We still like his effectiveness without the puck and that reliability helps him make another line we can trust and play in all situations.”
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3. TVR improving. Trevor van Riemsdyk got off to a slow start this season – actually his camp wasn’t as good as last year’s, either. But with each passing game van Riemsdyk is looking more comfortable. It didn’t hurt that he got two points, including his first NHL goal, on Saturday night. The confidence is building. “That first game was a slow start by me, personally. That can’t happen,” van Riemsdyk said. “I think as the games have gone on I’ve felt more comfortable playing better and better. I just want to be progressing in that upward way.”
4. Darling shows no rust. Scott Darling wasn’t supposed to get the second half of the Blackhawks’ final preseason game, but he did when Corey Crawford came out for precautionary reasons. Darling said at the time it helped to get a little unexpected work in. Whether that factored into tonight, who knows, but Darling looked comfortable from the start against the Islanders. The lone goal he gave up really wasn’t his fault – it came off a turnover – but Darling looked ready for the season in stopping 28 of 29 shots.
5. Top-line auditions continue. Ryan Garbutt got his chance with Toews and Hossa on Saturday. Quenneville said Garbutt was, “all right. He was OK.” The Blackhawks will keep looking for the first-line fix – hey, it could be Teravainen again if that game he played tonight transitions to the top line. But Quenneville said the Blackhawks will try and settle on a left wing there soon.