The Chicago Blackhawks are currently enjoying a 3 game winning streak. There are many factors for the 3 wins. The “big guns” have been showing up and Corey Crawford has been playing much better. I think the biggest factor is the improved play of the defensive unit. Not only have they been playing much better defensively but they have been stepping up in the offensive play as well, with a defenseman getting a goal in each of the last 3 games. Good things happen when the D men get involved in the offense.
Duncan Keith has looked like the guy who won the Norris Trophy two years ago the last 3 games and less like his ugly alter ego Drunken Keith. Keith has 3 points (1 G, 2A) and is a plus 6 the last 3 games. His skating has been incredible lately. He has been closing in on pucks and taking away passing lanes better than he has at any point of the season.
Rookie Dylan Olsen has been improving with each game and has looked pretty good paired up with Keith. He has been solid and been playing a nice physical game. He is still prone to some rookie mistakes but those are going to happen with any young blue liner. I think he has earned the right to stay with the big club and stayed paired with Duncan Keith.
Nick Leddy is playing his best hockey of the year since being paired up with Brent Seabrook. He is proving what I have been saying for months, Leddy should not be paired with Niklas Hjalmarrson. For whatever reason those two do not work together. Leddy is a +1 over the last 3 games which is a big deal for a kid who is -11 on the season. He is shooting the puck more which is a good thing. Leddy has had a tough year, but he is improving and is going to be a really good player. His speed and puck handling skills are going to be a great asset for the Blackhawks. You’ve got to remember, Leddy should be a junior in college and is learning the pro game at the highest level. I think he is holding his own.
I think when Hjalmarrson and Steve Montador come back from their injuries they should be paired together. Right now, there is no reason to split up the Kieth/Olsen and Seabrook/Leddy pairs. They are working so ride them out until they give you a reason to split them up. It will be interesting to see what Stan Bowman does to add to defensive unit in the next week. I am still dreaming of landing Kyle Quincey, but don’t be shocked to see Chris Campoli or Jaroslav Spacek back in a Blackhawks uniform.