No Niklas Hjalmarsson, no Corey Crawford, no problem for the Blackhawks.
Certainly you want those two back as soon as possible. But while Hjalmarsson nurses an upper-body injury and Crawford deals with an illness, the Blackhawks just keep going. Credit their all-around game, which has continually gotten better in recent weeks and was there for the most part again in their 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday night.
The Blackhawks did what they wanted to during the Minnesota Wild’s bye: they won both games and just trail the Wild by a point now. So onward we go. Will anything happen by Wednesday afternoon, when the trade deadline hits? We’ll see but we’re also going to caution messing up what’s becoming more of a good thing by the day.
Anyway, onto the notables.
What Worked: The Blackhawks’ start. For the first half (or so) of the season you wondered why the first 20 minutes were so difficult. Like a few other glitches to their game, they’ve gotten past this one, too. The Blackhawks looked sharp at the start on Sunday night, with the top-line players (Nick Schmaltz pass and Jonathan Toews finish) once again giving them the 1-0 a few minutes into the game.
What Didn’t Work: The second period. A few things went wrong during the next 20 minutes. The Blackhawks’ possession dipped, their penalty kill failed and their power play had a quiet second chance. Perhaps some of that was the Blues waking out of their first-period slumber – they’re coming off a bye, and we’ve documented what happens off of those. But the Blackhawks did not follow up their great start accordingly.
Star of the game: Tempting to give it to Scott Darling, given the fact that he found out this morning he’d be getting the start after all in Corey Crawford’s illness absence. But Patrick Kane had a tremendous evening, too, from the power-play goal to the secondary assist on Artem Anisimov’s goal to playing extra minutes down the stretch. Can we call it a draw?
He Said It: “It’s certainly been fun to watch Schmatzy, particularly the last three games where he’s gone to a different level. And Hartsy’s [Ryan Hartman’s] been pretty good all year. Their development is important for our team success right now. We’ll need these guys right on through. We’ll still need some young guys as we’re going into it as well. The lineup on Wednesday, who knows? We’ll talk about it over the next couple of days and we’ll see what happens. Tough to say.” Coach Joel Quenneville on if the team will look any different following Wednesday’s trade deadline.
By the Numbers:
500 – Career points for Duncan Keith, who hit the milestone with his secondary assist on Patrick Kane’s power-play goal.
13 – points (five goals, eight assists) for Jonathan Toews during his current six-game point streak.
22 – Goals for Artem Anisimov, which ties a season high for him previously set in 2013-14 with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
6 – Consecutive games in which Richard Panik has had at least one point, a career high. He has four goals and five assists in that stretch.