3. Crawsome! Speaking of goalies, the Hawks netminder isn’t doing too shabby either. Corey Crawford was out with a mysterious upper body injury since March 14th. It was rumored that he was suffering from vertigo. He did come back for the last game of the regular season against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He played alright, but there was major concern by much of the fan base and media about Corey’s status. Would he be rusty and have a hard time finding his rhythm? Would any lingering effects of the vertigo affect his reflexes or his ability to track the puck?
Crow has put everyone’s fears to rest by having an incredibly solid first three games of the playoffs. In Game 1, it was a fluke play by his own teammate that got past him in overtime. In Game 2, Crow stopped 29 of 31 shots. It also marked his 46th playoff win with the Blackhawks, which is a new franchise record. In Game 3, Crow had to make 5 quality stops early in the game while he waited for his teammates to wake up. He ended the afternoon with 36 stops. Two of the tallies that got past him were deflected off his own teammates. And the other goal allowed was a beautiful play by the Blues on the power play.
2. Not playing four lines. An area of concern from the first three games is that the Chicago Blackhawks are definitely not rolling four lines. In Game 1, Brandon Mashinter was somewhat of a surprise to the lineup on the third line. He had 7:27 minutes of ice time, and made absolutely no impact at all.
Not surprisingly, Game 2 featured Richard Panik instead of Mashinter, but he played even less time (7:20 minutes). Panik’s linemate, Teuvo Teravainen, only saw 7:24 minutes of time on the ice, and fourth liner Andrew Desjardins only played 6:26 minutes.
In keeping with Coach Q’s penchant for line blending, Desjardins was scratched for Game 3. Instead, Dale Weise got his first shot in the playoffs, but he only played 6:29 minutes. Panik clocked 6:48 minutes, and TT had 9:43 minutes.
On top of all that, Tomas Fleischmann, who has had such great chemistry with TT, was moved down to the fourth line and didn’t have a very strong game.
Yes, it’s a good sign that the top two lines are getting lots of looks and seem to be right on the cusp of scoring goals. But you have to have four lines rolling in order to win championships, and the Chicago Blackhawks seem to still have a lot of question marks on their third and fourth lines.
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