It has been a whirlwind week for the NHL, and the Chicago Blackhawks were also a part of the activities in the last 7 days, with three games, and a trade deadline that saw them make some minor-league moves, as well as add a key depth piece. Here are this week’s Three Stars.
#3: Stan Bowman
The Three Stars of the week aren’t just limited to the guys on the ice, and it’s about time Bowman got some credit. He entered the most hectic week of the season for a man in his position, and exited still sticking to the status quo, something that must be working given that the Blackhawks lead all teams in the league. In a deadline where salary cap was king, Bowman added Michal Handzus, a player who will help the Hawks where they need it most; the faceoff circle. He also made minor league deals, included shipping off one of the Hawks’ abundant forward prospects for a blue-liner, ensuring the Hawks will have good stability even in the distant future. Bowman made overall good decisions all year, and now that he has less on his plate, he can sit back and watch the moves he’s made form a team that are heavy contenders for the Stanley Cup.
#2: Corey Crawford
Corey Crawford was in between the pipes for 2 out of three match-ups this week, and the Blackhawks ended up in the Win column in both of them. In the Hawks’ final trip to Detroit this season, he played very strong, as the spotlight was clearly shone on the opposite crease thanks to the Blackhawks 7-goal effort. He was 33 seconds away from another shutout when some mis-communication between him and Brent Seabrook caused Cory Emmerton to have a wide-open cage on the rebound, and he made no mistake. Nonetheless, Crow had another great outing when the Predators came to town, sneaking away with a shooutout ‘W’ after a bad collapse by the five men in front of him in the third period. Crow isn’t making the challenge of ‘who to start?’ any easier for Coach Q, and it is expected he and Ray Emery will split the rest of the season.
#1: Brandon Saad
Brandon Saad has shown his improvement since being added to the roster this season. He has developed into a Calder Trophy candidate, one that was a point-per-game player in the month of March, and one that can skate with the likes of Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews, and be a good fit on a first line, with less than a full season of NHL experience under his belt. In the last three games, he has 4 points, three of which came from an offensive show at the Joe Louis in Detroit, where he scored the game-winner. If Saad is the future of the Blackhawks, the future looks very bright. He has come in and bolstered a first line with two NHL stars, and the experience that he has gained is priceless for Hawks fans.
Brent Seabrook: Solid as ever, besides the last-minute miscue on Sunday.
Dave Bolland: Shut down people calling for his trade, after also notching a three-point afternoon on Sunday. Looks to be heating up to his usual fine playoff form.
The Blackhawks will settle some rivalries in the next couple of weeks, with 6 out of the next 7 games being divisional battles. It all starts Thursday night against the Blues at the U.C. Puck drop is at 7:30. Go Hawks!!
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