Brian Campbell listed a few things the Blackhawks have improved upon during the Blackhawks’ winning streak, which reached seven games on Wednesday.
Penalty killing, better defense and various players making contributions were some of the reasons for the recent success. But Campbell was cognizant of what’s really been key.
“I think we’d probably like to rely a little less on our goaltenders,” Campbell said. “They’ve played unbelievable as a group.”
There’s no denying the Blackhawks are playing better as this winning streak continues. But the overall theme has definitely been great goaltending. Corey Crawford has supplied much of it, going 6-0-0 during his portion of the stretch. Scott Darling’s tremendous work against Dallas on Sunday, including that lower-skate save in overtime, kept the streak intact.
As coach Joel Quenneville noted following Thursday’s practice, the Blackhawks will take this winning streak but they know the onus has fallen on their goaltending.
“Certainly very fortunate in a lot of these games. They're almost very comparable from start to finish. Our goaltending (with) Crow and Darls has been great,” Quenneville said. “I think over the stretch, the penalty killing's improved. Those have been two plusses about it. We should feel fortunate to be where we're at.”
Patrick Kane said after Wednesday’s game that the Blackhawks’ confidence in Crawford has probably led to them giving up more quality chances than necessary – “you feel you can maybe give up some chances and he’s going to bail you out every time,” he said. Obviuosly the Blackhawks want to get away from that.
“[Crawford has] saved us in a bunch of these games. We maybe didn’t deserve to win in chances, but he’s been coming up big for us. Darls, too,” Kruger said. “We trust them a lot and they’ve been a big part of this.”
The Blackhawks like the direction in which they’re going. Various parts of their game have improved, especially that penalty kill. Their lines are looking more balanced. They’re getting closer to having complete games. And yes, their goaltenders have been brilliant. But the Blackhawks can’t keep leaning on them, especially Crawford, the way they have during a good part of this winning streak. The day’s going to come where Crawford has a bad game or two. Or three. On those nights, the Blackhawks will have some favors to return.
"[Crawford]’s been playing outstanding. A lot of credit goes to him for the win streak,” Ryan Hartman said. “We have to repay him a little bit, clean it up a little bit and help him out a little more.”