Tonight’s theme is, “stop if you’ve heard this before.”
If you’ve watched the Blackhawks lately, you’ll know what we mean by that as you go through this story. A few trends are developing, some good and some bad. But the end results have been victories lately, so the Blackhawks will take those and keep working on the issues.
So while you all prepare for the Cubs’ victory parade tomorrow — oh yeah, it’s real— let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 4-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
1. Corey Crawford, once again, his tremendous. Yep, this is one of those good trends for the Blackhawks — sort of. They’re allowing some quality shots way too often but Crawford has been locked in the last few games. That includes Thursday night, when Crawford stopped 38 for his second shutout in his last three games. Crawford has long said he doesn’t mind being busy, and he was up to the task yet again against Colorado. But the Blackhawks can’t get into a habit of leaning on him too much.
2. Brent Seabrook’s great defending. Seabrook doesn’t get enough credit, really — yes, we realize that’s our fault — but he had a strong game. He helped cover the net the rare time Corey Crawford was out of position and, when facing a 2-on-1 later in the second period, went down to block Nathan MacKinnon’s pass.
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3. Marian Hossa still slick. No, he’s not 25 anymore. No, he likely won’t have a 30-goal season. But there’s no doubt Hossa has looked good to start this season. His first goal was vintage Hossa, a strong, driving goal that saw him push away an attempting-to-hook Fedor Tyutin. His second, off the great feed from Duncan Keith, saw Hossa splitting the defenders. Hossa struggled terribly last season but he’s shown none of that early. Maybe getting over that 500-career-goal hump was a big help, along with the restful offseason. Whatever the reason, Hossa is surging.
4. The penalty kill keeps improving. We’ll get into this more on Friday but the Blackhawks are reversing their worst trend slowly but surely. They killed off three more penalties and have now nixed 12 in a row. There are a myriad of reasons why it’s working better now — again, we’ll write about that tomorrow — but, as coach Joel Quenneville said, “I thought tonight was one of our better nights, PK-wise.”
5. Quick strikes. We’ll say this for the Blackhawks: when they have had scoring opportunities, they’ve been opportunistic. Jonathan Toews andHossa scored within 38 seconds of each other to turn an otherwise forgettable first period into a 2-0 Blackhawks lead. They had only four shots in the third but scored twice (Hossa again and Artemi Panarin). Again, the Blackhawks want to get their shots up — the Avs outshot them 38-21. But when they do get chances, they aren’t missing.