Last night, the Chicago Blackhawks had their first game of the New Year, and they didn’t disappoint! Some might say it was a pretty boring game, but a win is a win, and they came out victorious over the Ottawa Senators. Not only that, but Corey Crawford earned his sixth shutout of the year in his 300th career game! That’s right, the Chicago Blackhawks blanked the Senators 3-0, earning their 23rd win of the year and moving up to second place in the Central Division.
Well, most of the highlights and posts about this game will be about the stars. Crawford deserves a lot of credit for his above mentioned accomplishments. And yes, Duncan Keith scored a goal. Artem Anisimov, although in a slump recently, also scored. The leading point scorer on the team, Patrick Kane, earned yet another assist. Captain Serious got an assist as well.
Now don’t get me wrong. This is all great! The stars are the stars and they are supposed to bring home the bacon. That’s why they are the top players. But the purpose of this post is to recognize a line that has emerged among the bottom six forwards. Secondary scoring is very important, and it looks like some players have been working hard and starting to find that niche.
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Recently, a very strong and solid third line has been formed for the Chicago Blackhawks. Andrew Desjardins, Phillip Danault, and Teuvo Teravainen have been playing together since the Hawks took on the Arizona Coyotes last Tuesday. At the time, the team was coming off a loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, and Coach Q was attempting to shake things up a bit. He promoted Andrew Shaw to the first line to replace Teravainen. He said it was more about Shaw’s strong play the last couple of games than anything Teravainen had done.
Meanwhile, he also moved Desjardins and Danault from the fourth line to the third line, to play alongside Teravainen. Again, those two had been working hard and Coach Q wanted to reward them with more responsibility.
In the last three games, this trio has clicked. Against Arizona, Desjardins scored twice, with Teravainen and Danault picking up assists on his first goal. Against Colorado on Thursday, they had a repeat performance. This time, Desi got the go-ahead goal at a pretty important time, when the score was tied at 1-1. Looking at last night’s game, Desjardins picked up an empty net goal at the end of the game to seal the coffin for the Senators. Danault picked up the assist.
Said Joe Quenneville about Desjardins, “He’s had a great stretch, three games here for him and his line mates, solid again, pucks following him around like a top player. So we’ve been very pleased for him”.
Looking more closely at last night’s game, Desjardins also picked up the secondary assist on Keith’s goal. It was his protection of the puck that started the play. He was then able to get it to Toews, who in turn set up Keith. In 15:18 minutes of ice time, Desi had a goal and an assist, was credited with 2 hits, and tied both Artemi Panarin and Kane for the team high 4 shots on goal.
It’s been said that Phillip Danault’s game is very similar to that of Marcus Kruger. With Kruger out on injury for the rest of season, Danault is making a case to be a good replacement. Last night he played 14:43 minutes, with a minute of that time actually spent on the penalty kill. As I mentioned above, he earned an assist on Desi’s goal. That makes 3 assists in the last three games centering the third line. In 7 games played, his faceoff percentage is only 44.3%, so he could use some improvement in that area.
Teravainen has 3 assists since being moved to the third line. I mentioned in an earlier post that Teravainen is probably the long-term solution on the first line. But having him on the third line does make some sense. It provides more balance among the lines. TT provides the finesse, and the other two provide the grit. The combination makes that line more of a scoring threat.
Well, the Chicago Blackhawks have won three games in a row, and Coach Q doesn’t usually tinker with the lines after wins. This means we should see more of the Desjardins/Danault/Teravainen pairing. Can they keep up their strong play and continue with their secondary scoring? I certainly hope so. The Hawks are about halfway through the regular season, and as of right now they are showing consistency and promise in their first, second, and third lines. Now to work on that fourth line…
Richard Panik is the newest player on the Chicago Blackhawks, via a trade last night from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Perhaps adding him to the mix will help matters. After all, having four lines rolling is what wins championships. Stay tuned Blackhawks fans! Never a dull moment.
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