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Chicago Blackhawks’ Observations From Win Over Boston

By Colin Likas
Apr 3, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) is greeted after scoring his third goal against the Boston Bruins during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 3, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) is greeted after scoring his third goal against the Boston Bruins during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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That may have been the worst-ever on-ice display from a team that scored six goals in a win.

The Chicago Blackhawks did beat the Boston Bruins 6-4 on Sunday, and two points is ultimately two points. But, boy oh boy, was it a trip to get there. The Blackhawks looked really good for the first 20 minutes, then pretty much crapped themselves the rest of the game. Somehow, they managed four goals in the “crapped themselves” timespan.

The difference in this one was ultimately that much better opening 20 minutes, as the Blackhawks netted goals from Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane while outshooting the Bruins 19-8. When Kane scored 54 seconds into the middle period, Boston was suddenly woken from its slumber. That still didn’t stop the Blackhawks from tallying the next three goals, though, as Jonathan Toews, Panarin and Kane concluded the Blackhawks’ scoring with about six minutes left in the second.

Things got weird from there, and not a good weird. David Pastrnak converted on a breakaway with 15 seconds left in the second for the Bruins’ first marker, and Patrice Bergeron managed to sneak in a goal before the period ended. The Bruins came out flying in the third, as Bergeron and Brad Marchand each scored before the halfway point of the period.

The Blackhawks then proceeded to hang on while doing next to nothing offensively. An Andrew Desjardins empty-netter late was waved off due to Marcus Kruger being ruled offsides, but it ultimately didn’t matter. The Blackhawks moved to 99 points on the season, two behind the Blues. St. Louis has a game in hand, which it plays tonight at Colorado.

So, let’s get to some observations from this one.

— Kane hit 100 points for the first time in his career on his third goal of the game. The second line rolled over a weak Boston defensive corps through the first 35 minutes, similar to what we saw early in the regular season. Good to see that group heating up again just before the playoffs.

— Also good to see the powerplay convert twice, with Anisimov being relatively unguarded on the first conversion, and Kane and Panarin hitting a lightning-fast 2-on-1 after Brent Seabrook stopped a Boston shorthanded bid and sent the puck the other way. It was the least Seabrook could do, considering he pulled a Duncan Keith and shot the puck right into a Boston player’s shinpads to begin the shorthanded attempt.

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— Speaking of Keith, the Blackhawks’ defense needs him back, and badly. There just wasn’t a lot to like from the blueliners today, minus some shot blocking. The offense managed to flourish today without Keith, which is a positive sign. But the defense did not step up to the plate. And it wasn’t just the four goals. Boston probably could’ve put up a 10-spot on this group, as the Bruins missed open net after open net. While the Bruins have one of the more potent offenses in the game, that doesn’t bode well for an opening-round playoff game against (probably) St. Louis, for which Keith will be absent.

Scott Darling was fine, stopping 42 of 46 shots. But, man, was he sloppy in net at times. The third goal saw him falling all over himself as Bergeron got an easy one. His swimming in the crease often wasn’t punished today, though, due to the aforementioned Bruins missing open nets a lot. Darling did come up with some big third-period saves, though, when the Blackhawks decided not to push play whatsoever, and he should certainly be commended for that.

Brandon Mashinter was a minus-2 when the Blackhawks scored six goals, and he managed to fall flat on his ass in the neutral zone to set the Bruins up for a goal. Richard Panik isn’t better than this guy?

Marian Hossa was, somehow, also a minus-2 even though he looked to have some pep in his step today. His dish on Toews’ goal was pretty sweet, sending it just over the outstretched stick of a sprawling Bruin. But all of this was put to a concerning end when Hossa suffered an injury on a seemingly harmless collision with a Bruins player. He struggled off the ice and didn’t return. However …

— Speaking of Q, he picked up win No. 800 in his coaching career. Nice milestone for him. The man goes a bit mad scientist at times, but there’s no doubt Q is a hell of a coach. Congrats to the stache.

— If you’d like the definition of a double-edged sword, look back at Q’s challenge of Boston’s second goal, late in the second period. Loui Eriksson might’ve been offsides, but there was no video evidence to confirm it. Q saw the possibility to kill Boston’s momentum, as he knew the Bruins would come out flying in the third if they got two late goals in the second period. This ended up happening, and the Blackhawks had no timeout to slow down play as a result of losing the challenge. Tough call there.

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— But, we did get to see Claude Julien being extremely confused after he wasn’t sure if the officials were keeping or overturning the goal call. I imagine that’s the look on his face when someone tells him how Tyler Seguin is doing in Dallas.

— The Blackhawks have three games next week to close the regular season. The one against Arizona may look like an easy win, but the Blackhawks have struggled to slow down the Coyotes this season. The teams don’t like each other much, so that could seep into the game. Then the Blues are on tap in a game that could decide which team hosts their very likely first-round playoff matchup. The Blackhawks then travel to Columbus on Saturday in the one game Corey Crawford might get before the postseason begins. Q suggested yesterday Crow might only see one game before this playoffs, and this will probably be it. An important week on tap.

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