Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks: 5 Takeaways from the Weekend

By Gail Kauchak
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Nov 23, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Henrik Sedin (33) watches a shot on net against Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (50) during the second period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Well, I think we all got a little too excited when the Chicago Blackhawks beat the struggling Edmonton Oilers 7-1 on Saturday night.  But then we got pulled back down to earth when we witnessed a 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.  The 3 game winning streak didn’t make it to 4, and the Canucks are now 4 points ahead of the Hawks in the Western Conference.   Here are 5 things that stood out to me during this weekend’s games.

5.  The Blackhawks are getting closer to rolling four lines. During the match up against Edmonton, Phillip Danault recorded the lowest time on the ice, with 11:13 minutes.  That’s still a pretty substantial amount of time, considering this was his first NHL game.  Among the bottom six forwards, Marcus Kruger scored a goal, and Bickell, Carcillo, Smith, and Nordstrom all had assists.  I’d consider that a very good contribution from the third and fourth lines.

Of course, it’s a lot easier to roll four lines when you’re involved in a blowout game.  But in the tilt against Vancouver, the lines were still more balanced than might have been expected.  Danault and Carcillo only had 7:47 and 8:08 minutes of ice time respectively, but the other third and fourth liners were all well over 10 minutes.  This probably had to do with having back to back games and balancing ice time due to fatigue.  Either way, everyone was able to contribute and gain more experience.  This shows trust by Coach Q, and gives the players more confidence going forward.

4.  The second period is looking better. The second frame of the Edmonton game saw two power play goals, from both Versteeg and Hossa, and another goal by Keith. 3 goals in one period!  Chicago also outshot Edmonton 10 to 9.  The Oilers didn’t score in this frame, but instead marched to the penalty box 5 times.  Advantage Hawks.

During Sunday’s match up, the Hawks actually looked pretty shaky in the first period.  But during the second, they seemed to get their legs under them a little bit better.  This is when Versteeg scored on a power play, and Chicago was able to tie the game at 1-1.

I mentioned last week that if the Hawks can string together some stronger second periods, it could be a glorious thing.  It was glorious against the Oilers, and a step in the right direction against the Canucks.

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3.  God Bless Corey Crawford! Crow made a surprise start on Saturday when Antti Raanta ended up sick with the flu.  He came ready to go, and stopped 24 of 25 shots.  Sunday’s game was a little more challenging, but Crawford was up to the task.  He kept the Hawks in the game by making a number of high quality stops.  He ended up making 26 of 29 saves.

2.  Hang in there Adam Clendening.   Clendening had a pretty solid outing against the Oilers, and was even able to tally an assist.  But against the Canucks, he made a rookie mistake that led to Vancouver’s eventual game winning goal.  Enzo was able to make his famous “stick on the ice” analogy, by pointing out that Clendening kept two hands on his stick, and therefore wasn’t able to block Jannik Hansen’s shot.  Hopefully Clendening will be able to learn from this, and forge ahead to continue to play his game.