Goaltending deserves much of the credit for Blackhawks’ win streak

Goaltending deserves much of the credit for Blackhawks’ win streak

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.”

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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.”

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 4: Roster overview

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 4: Roster overview

In a 10-part series, we look back at the 10-year anniversary of the 2008-09 season, the start of the Blackhawks dynasty.

Starting a dynasty means you have to identify a group of core players to build your team around. Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews were those guys, along with Marian Hossa, who joined that mix later on.

You also need a mixture of young talent and strong veterans to fill out the depth to become successful. That's exactly what the Blackhawks had at the beginning of their dynasty and throughout.

On the first day of NHL free agency in 2008, the Blackhawks inked All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell to an eight-year deal, which solidified Chicago as a destination players wanted to commit to long term. That same year, Kris Versteeg emerged as the Blackhawks' third Calder Trophy candidate in two years, Martin Havlat and Andrew Ladd set a career high in points with 77 and 49, respectively, while youngsters Dave Bolland, Troy Brouwer and Dustin Byfuglien began to make a name for themselves as valuable pieces to the puzzle.

"Real good group of guys," Joel Quenneville said on Oct. 18, 2008. "I can say that it's the first time I walked in the room where, wow, I was impressed."

Six of the Blackhawks' Top 10 scorers in 2008-09 were aged 23 or younger. The average age for the other four? 27. The youth movement was real and they all contributed in a big way.

Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, Connor Murphy to participate in USA's Stars and Stripes Showdown

Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, Connor Murphy to participate in USA's Stars and Stripes Showdown

In honor of the late executive Jim Johannson, who died unexpectedly in his sleep in January at the age of 53, USA Hockey is hosting a Stars and Stripes Showdown at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan on Sunday, Aug. 26 and three Blackhawks will be participating in it: Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane and Connor Murphy.

Kane served as USA's captain at the 2018 IIHF World Championship in Denmark this past May and set a new American record with 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 10 tournament contests, which earned him MVP honors. DeBrincat had one goal and eight assists while Murphy led USA with a plus-7 rating.

Other star-studded headliners participating: Connor Hellebuyck, Seth Jones, Dylan Larkin, Auston Matthews, Charlie McAvoy, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, James van Riemsdyk and Zach Werenski. It's a great group getting together to celebrate the life of Johannson, who was an instrumental part of USA Hockey's program for the last 18 years.

Tickets are being sold for $10 and $15, which you can purchase here. Doors open at 1 p.m. ET with the game starting at 2 p.m.

A few events that will occur throughout the game: a ceremonial puck drop, a live game-worn jersey auction, an online auction featuring game-worn jerseys and autographed NHL memorabilia, special raffles and an opportunity postgame to meet and greet select players and coaches. All proceeds will benefit both the Jim Johannson Legacy Fund of The USA Hockey Foundation and the Ellie Johannson College Fund.