Even with this season’s Chicago Blackhawks cast seeing significant change, the team still faces mediocre teams the same way
Last night’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks was mostly awful for 40 minutes. Then it was equal parts entertaining and ridiculous for the final 25-plus minutes, as the Blackhawks pulled out a surprising win.
But was it really that surprising? We’ve watched this core (Patrick Sharp formerly included) pull out ridiculous wins they probably shouldn’t have in the past. This was just another example.
Of course, this team is not nearly the same as some of those past iterations. And the way the Blackhawks pulled off this comeback — falling behind 3-0 before eventually winning 4-3 in overtime — was different from how past Chicago outfits did the job.
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Supporting cast steps up
Yes, the core did finish this game. After Jonathan Toews had a game-winner waved off, Marian Hossa got the job done a short time later. But the other three goals were produced by “newer” team members.
While Artemi Panarin may feel like part of the core by now, this is only his second season in Chicago. He got the rally started early in the third period.
Vincent Hinostroza, who wound up with three points on the night, potted the second goal on an assist from newcomer Michal Kempny. That’s the same Hinostroza who’s been a healthy scratch throughout the season.
And Ryan Hartman tied the game late in the third period with his second goal in as many nights. Another newer face.
This job wasn’t done entirely by the old guard, like most of the past comebacks of this ilk have been. So this is a different sort of comeback for the Blackhawks. And yet, it’s also very much similar to past ones.
Blackhawks know when they’re the better team
It’s no secret the Canucks are among the league’s worst teams. They’re poorly managed and can’t fully commit to a youth movement. So the Blackhawks had to know, even down 3-0, that they were the better team.
That’s why this win is similar to past ones like it. And it goes back to that old guard, even if the group doesn’t pot all the goals on the way to a comeback win.
Guys in the locker room like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger and Corey Crawford (even when he’s not playing) are critical to comebacks like this happening.
They have a mentality, regardless of the situation, that they don’t have to lose, no matter what the score stands at. And they’ve clearly been able to translate that to a rotating cast of forwards, defensemen and goaltenders who have come in as a result of salary cap restraints.
So last night’s win was kind of a defining one for some of these newer Blackhawks. It was proof positive that no matter how bad this team can look, it can still win a game. It’s old hat for the elder statesmen, and they’re successfully impressing that on the youngsters.