When the Blackhawks hosted the Washington Capitals on Sunday it promised to be an entertaining late-morning tilt. It didn’t disappoint.
After a few active trading days, the Blackhawks debuted a somewhat different lineup that also didn’t disappoint in a 3-2 victory over the Capitals, who have the best record in the NHL (45-12-4). It was fun, exhilarating and fast hockey, and it makes you wonder what kind of a series it would be if, by chance, these two would meet in June.
But we’re getting way, way, way ahead of ourselves here. So before we call it an early day, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over the Capitals.
1. Two of the new guys make immediate impacts. The Blackhawks obviously knew what they were getting with Ladd, and the veteran looked comfortable a few minutes in with Jonathan Toews and Andrew Shaw. He added the secondary assist on Toews’ power-play goal. Tomas Fleischmann fit in well in his first game, too. The third-line combination with he, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrew Desjardins looked very good, getting scoring opportunities and playing a strong all-around game.
2. Dennis Rasmussen scores the big goal. Considering recent trade acquisitions and the fact that Marian Hossa should be back relatively soon, you wonder how long Rasmussen will stay with the big club. Even if it isn’t much longer, Rasmussen made a big contribution on Sunday with what ended up being the game-winning goal. Rasmussen hadn’t scored since mid-December, so Sunday’s goal was a relief. “I try to play the two-way game and try to be strong at everything I do and play a simple game. But obviously nice to get a couple of goals, too,” Rasmussen said. “It’s been a while, so I’m happy.”
3. Blackhawks get away with a slow start. The Capitals looked like they were ready for the first 20 minutes on Sunday. The Blackhawks did not. But thanks to a great Trevor van Riemsdyk pass to Patrick Kane, who scored his 36th goal of the season, the Blackhawks came out of it 1-1 instead of down at least a goal. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “we got through [the first] 1-1, it was like a win.”
4. Teravainen looked much better. In too many games this season Teravainen has looked hesitant and lacking confidence. He didn’t look that in this one. Whether it was the new line mates or just the right outlook, Teravainen played on Sunday the way the Blackhawks have wanted him to all season.
5. The Capitals are really, really good. The Blackhawks got the victory today but there’s no doubt from goaltending to depth to the scoring ability, there’s a reason the Capitals are the best team in the league. The Capitals just come in waves, and there’s no doubt they had the Blackhawks on their heels in the first period.