Toews and Hossa get hot as Chicago Blackhawks extend win streak to 6 games.
After sweeping the Dallas Stars in a critical home-and-home series, the Blackhawks have won six straight games and sit atop the Central Division with a record of 9-3-1. Extended win streaks require a team-wide effort, and the ‘Hawks have been strong up and down the lineup. In this segment of Blackhawk Up’s new weekly feature, I’ll take a look at the brightest stars and a couple of lesser lights over the past week’s action.
Artem Anisimov and Corey Crawford continued their torrid pace – Anisimov’s riding an 11-game point streak and his 8 goals and 17 points lead the NHL. Crawford was just named the NHL’s 2nd Star of the Week with a .971 save percentage and goals-against average of 1.00 over his past 3 games. We’ll acknowledge them here in the ‘Supernova’ category coined by my boss and editor, Colin Likas, then identify below some key performers over the past 3 games.
Who’s hot: Jonathan Toews.
After a sluggish start, the Captain has really caught fire over the past week, scoring 2 goals and 3 assists, including the game-winner over the Colorado Avalanche. Recently re-united with Patrick Kane on the top line, Toews has clicked with his linemate who shares the league lead in assists with 11 helpers. Games are often won or lost at the dot, and Toews currently leads the NHL in faceoffs, winning 61.1 percent of his draws.
Who’s not: Vinnie Hinostroza.
A healthy scratch for the past 3 games, Vinnie Hinostroza has only played twice in 21 days. With no points in 6 appearances this season, the speedy forward has flashed some energy, but struggled to connect on the ice. With Andrew Desjardins re-activated from injured reserve, it’s likely Hinostroza will only make spot appearances in the near term.
Who’s hot: Marian Hossa.
37-year old Marian Hossa appears totally rejuvenated and playing as good as ever. With 3 goals and 1 assist in the past week, including 2 scores against the Avalanche and his heroic overtime game-winner against the Stars Sunday night, Hossa has already notched 6 goals and 11 points this year. There are few sights more thrilling for ‘Hawks fans than seeing Big Hoss take the puck to the net with his patented power move.
Who’s not: Power Play.
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After a sizzling week where they scored 5 goals on 16 chances, the Blackhawks power play unit converted only 1 of 12 chances over the past 3 games, even giving-up a ‘shortie’ to the Stars. The ‘Hawks have struggled to gain the zone or spent too much time moving the puck around while passing-up chances to shoot. It’s fashionable to compare the ‘Hawks’ high-skilled maneuvering with the Harlem Globetrotters, but in Washington on Friday night, the Blackhawks will be facing the Capitals – not the Generals – and they’ll have to get the puck on goal to win the game.
Who’s hot: Scott Darling.
Without the benefit of regular play to find a rhythm, backup goalies are still expected to be in top form every time they get between the pipes. The Blackhawks #2 netminder Scott Darling has been ‘hot’ every game this year – winning all three of his starts, including the overtime victory against Dallas Sunday night. Stopping 32 of 35 shots, Darling came up huge in OT with his now-famous right skate ‘toe save’ to deny Patrick Eaves’ backdoor bid to end the game. Darling will be called into action many more times this season – let’s hope he stays hot.
Who’s not: Michal Kempny.
This is actually a sly attempt to recognize a player whose contributions during the current win streak have not appeared on the score sheet. A healthy scratch in two earlier games, defenseman Michal Kempny was prone to overly aggressive play and costly penalties, but is now marshalling his considerable talents to the team’s benefit. Plus-5 overall, he has excelled on the PK, blocking shots and clearing the zone. A strong skater and puck-mover, Kempny has a heavy shot and plenty of offensive upside to be a difference-maker this season. Netflix fans of “The Fall” may have noticed Kempny’s alarming facial resemblance to Jamie Dornan’s charismatic psycho-killer ‘Paul Spector’, right down to the furrowed brow and piercing gaze.