Blackhawks

Marian Hossa surging: Five Things from Blackhawks-Avalanche

Marian Hossa surging: Five Things from Blackhawks-Avalanche

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.

Erik Gustafsson on his first NHL fight and Blackhawks reaction to it

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USA Today

Erik Gustafsson on his first NHL fight and Blackhawks reaction to it

Towards the latter stages of the second period in Sunday's 4-1 win over the Sabres, Alex Nylander received a pass at the Buffalo blue line and fed it to Jonathan Toews, who nearly connected with Brandon Saad that would've put the Blackhawks up 3-0. Then the whistle blew.

Penalty? Injured player?

Nope. 

A scrap ensued in the neutral zone and Chicago's eyes lit up once it became clear which player got involved: Erik Gustafsson, who had zero career NHL fights before dropping the gloves with Sabres forward Jimmy Vesey. So what the heck happened?

"I don't know, I felt like he was coming late," Gustafsson said. "Got his hands up in my face when he hit me and kind of crosschecked him after and he slashed me. I didn't say anything, I was just looking at him, he looked at me and we dropped 'em."

It's easy to figure out what Vesey was trying to accomplish. The Blackhawks had just scored to make it 2-0 and he's looking to change the momentum of the game.

The surprising part was the fact Gustafsson engaged, which he normally doesn't do unless it's warranted. It threw his teammates and everyone on the bench off guard because he's not known to be a physical player.

As soon as the fight began, the TV cameras panned to Saad on the ice and the confused look on his face told the story.

"I haven't talked to him about it yet," a laughing Gustafsson said. "I have to go ask him why he looked so surprised. It was kind of funny, I got to show him that too."

Said head coach Jeremy Colliton: "I didn't see what happened before. I just saw he was fighting and I just, you know ... wondered what could have happened. But, hey, you've got to stick up for yourself."

The only other fights Gustafsson has had in his professional career came with the Rockford IceHogs during the 2016-17 season. He dropped the gloves twice, and both came against Manitoba Moose forward J.C. Lipon, who's profile on hockeyfights.com is significantly longer than Gustafsson's. Each of those scraps started because Gustafsson was unhappy with a hit that was laid on him.

Gustafsson was credited with the takedown in both of those fights against Lipon, but he didn't have as much luck against Vesey.

"Your adrenaline is going up pretty quick," Gustafsson said. "I wanted to keep going there but he dragged me down hard. But it was good to have the first one."

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

Brian Campbell is getting the 'One More Shift' treatment from Blackhawks

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USA TODAY

Brian Campbell is getting the 'One More Shift' treatment from Blackhawks

Brian Campbell was one of the key acquisitions that helped turn the Blackhawks into a contender after years of missing the playoffs. Now, the Blackhawks are honoring him for his contributions to the team.

Campbell will be honored with “One More Shift” ahead of Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Blackhawks announced. Campbell will be alongside the team during the national anthem in full gear.

The 40-year-old is now a player development coach for the Blackhawks. He joined the team as a free agent ahead of the 2008-09 season. That season he was second on the team with 45 assists and helped the Blackhawks break a five-year playoff drought and make it to the conference finals for the first time in 14 years.

The following season, the Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup since 1961. Campbell spent three years with the Blackhawks during that stint before closing out his career with the team in 2016-17. 

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.