The Chicago Blackhawks snapped their four-game losing streak, and hopefully ended their annual March Swoon, on Friday by defeating the lowly Winnipeg Jets for the third time this season. It was the Blackhawks’ first win since March 6. Scott Darling got the start in net because Corey Crawford is suffering from an “upper-body injury.”
Darling earned a shutout, and the Blackhawks backed him up with four even-strength goals in a 4-0 triumph. Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Tomas Fleischmann and Andrew Ladd each tallied, with Ladd’s coming in his first game back in the city he called home for the previous 4 1/2 seasons.
Here are the five things we learned from the Blackhawks’ victory over the Jets:
1.Darling was the best player on the ice. Darling has appeared in 19 games this season and started 14 games. He is 2-1-0 in his last three starts and has started the last two Blackhawks’ games. On Friday, Darling was spectacular. He made 28 of 28 saves and had to fend off six Jets powerplays. He kept the Blackhawks in the game during long stretches of poor play. It was Darling’s second career shutout.
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2. Fleischmann continues to play well. Since being traded to the Blackhawks, Fleischmann has appeared in eight games. He has scored three goals and added one assist. He has a 53.8 Corsi-for percentage and the same Fenwick-for percentage. He has looked strong on the puck and given the third line a good boost. Fleischmann, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrew Desjardins had seven shots combined against the Jets, with Teravainen getting an assist on the Flesichmann goal. Could Fleischmann be re-signed in the offseason? That is some food for thought.
3. The Blackhawks’ offense is (still) fueled by Kane. The Blackhawks’ offense had scored six goals during the team’s four-game losing streak. During the losing streak, Kane had one assist. In tonight’s game, Kane had one goal and one assist and the team scored four goals. Kane obviously drives this offense, as he has 39 goals and 53 assists on the season.
4. The defense is still very suspect. Despite Darling posting his second career NHL shutout, the defensive committed several own-zone turnovers. Michal Rozsival appears to be lost on the ice at times. Erik Gustafsson is highly unreliable, and Trevor van Riemsdyk is an adventure on the blue line every night. Why isn’t Christian Ehrhoff getting a look on the blue line?
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5. The Blackhawks’ powerplay woes continue. The Blackhawks have not scored a powerplay goal since March 9 against St. Louis. They are for their 0 for 15 since converting during a five-minute man advantage against the Blues. The Blackhawks are a team that relies heavily on their powerplay scoring, so it’s important for them to get this unit going, and quickly.
Extra: The Blackhawks have struggled against some of their Central Division foes, going 1-3-0 against Dallas and 0-3-0 against Minnesota. But they have no trouble with the Jets, posting a 3-1-0 mark against them this regular season.