The Chicago Blackhawks have officially won 11 straight games in a row! This ties their franchise record of wins from the 2012-13 season. And we all know how that season ended up. Are the Hawks headed towards another Stanley Cup?! Well right now it certainly feels that way. Let’s take a look at six (yes I came up with six!) reasons the Chicago Blackhawks are winning right now.
6. Penalty Kill. The Chicago Blackhawks have only allowed 3 goals out of 22 attempts when being a man down in the last 9 games. That’s pretty good. And remember, this is without one of their best penalty killers in Marcus Kruger (out for the season with a wrist injury).
At a time when the power play is going through a rough patch (4 goals in 24 tries in the last 9 games), it’s important that one of the aspects of special teams is going well.
5. Gustafsson is good! I know I’m cheating a little bit here because Erik Gustafsson was out with right knee issue for the last two games before last night. But he made his presence known immediately upon his return, feeding Richard Panik with an excellent pass that led to a goal against the Montreal Canadiens. He has now tallied an assist in each of the last 4 games in which he has played.
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Since returning to the Blackhawks lineup for the second time this season, Gusty has been deployed as a top four defenseman, playing alongside Brent Seabrook. This pairing appears to be working. Similar to Duncan Keith, Gustafsson seems to be pretty adept at generating offensive opportunities. He has the ability to get the puck out of the Hawks zone and set up other players with scoring chances. He is also another option on the point during the power play.
Most importantly, having Gusty in the top four D allows Trevor van Riemsdyk to play on the third pairing, where he probably belongs. And then the old men (Michal Rozsival and Rob Scuderi) don’t have to play together.