It was a night of important numbers for the Chicago Blackhawks as they tripped up the visiting Vancouver Canucks
I know a majority of NHL players believe individual stats are secondary to team stats, and I’m sure hockey fans would agree. So we’ll start this post with this: the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 on Sunday night to move back into a tie for first place atop the Central Division and Western Conference.
The Blackhawks received some help from the Nashville Predators, who posted a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. Now, the Wild have three games in hand on Chicago instead of the four or five we’ve become accustomed to.
(Also, the Preds are finally waking up and are suddenly in third in the Central. I did say there was a playoff team in there somewhere.)
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So the big numbers right now are these: the Blackhawks and Wild are tied for the division and conference lead with 65 points, good for a four-point cushion on the Anaheim Ducks within the West.
However, Sunday’s game in Chicago was also a night of milestones for the Blackhawks. Let’s take a look at four nice stats that were reached in this game.
Here’s an easy way to recap all of these milestones, courtesy the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus:
For those without the ability to see that tweet, Sunday’s win saw the 500th career point for Brian Campbell, the 400th career point in Chicago for Marian Hossa, the 200th career goaltending victory for Corey Crawford and the 400th straight United Center sellout.
Brian Campbell’s 500th point
Let’s unpackage these individually, starting with Campbell. His accomplishment came early in this game, as he secured the primary assist on Richard Panik‘s icebreaking goal in the first period.
This was a really nice play from Campbell, and some of the reason he was brought to Chicago. He receives the puck along the wall, and while he starts to wind up for a slapper that probably just goes into a Canuck’s shinpads, he instead sends a pass to Panik above the circles.
While the puck was wobbly, it was in Panik’s wheelhouse. He absolutely smashed the puck home, ringing it off the bottom of the crossbar and past Ryan Miller.
Campbell hasn’t been the offensive pusher we thought he would be coming over in the offseason, as this was just his ninth assist and 13th point of the season. But it was good to see him get in on the action and help break open the scoring.
Marian Hossa’s 400th Blackhawks point
Not much to say about Hossa’s 400th career point with the Blackhawks (an empty-net goal late in this game) other than to note how impressive he’s been this season. Yes, he’s been impressive through much of his time in Chicago, but after a rough 2015-16 season, we thought his scoring touch might have been going with his age.
Not so, we’ve discovered this season. Hossa is up to 30 points and tied for the team lead in goals with 18 (Artem Anisimov also has 18). Good stuff from Hossa.
Crawford’s 200th win
Now, Crow’s 200th career win. He isn’t going to get much due in this game because a 2-0 lead disappeared under his watch. But he recorded 26 saves on 28 attempts, with Vancouver netting its most shots (11) in the third period. While he might like to have the first goal back (even if it was on a powerplay), the second was an instance of his defensemen failing him.
Crow had a solid bounceback night against a pretty bad team. And it put him in elite company, as Crow is one of only four Blackhawks goaltenders to ever post 200 career wins with the franchise. The other three (Tony Esposito, Glenn Hall and Ed Belfour) are all in the Hall of Fame.
Crow needs just two more wins to surpass Belfour on Chicago’s all-time wins list. And I’ll be really glad to see him get it done, considering all the flack he gets.
The United Center’s 400th straight sellout
This is kind of a cool stat for the fans, especially when you consider how much it costs to see a game in Chicago nowadays.
You have to pay tripe digits to sit up in the nosebleeds. Granted, those are still good seats, but it’s also a lot of money. So for Blackhawks fans to continue to show up at the UC as ticket prices skyrocket is worth noting.
This might just play into the idea of others that the Blackhawks are a bandwagon fanbase, but we’re talking about a run that would take close to 10 typical regular seasons to complete (if you consider 41 home games each season).
Considering there was a lockout in 2012, that means this run stretches back to the 2006-07 season. You might note the Blackhawks were busy finishing 31-42-9 that campaign, last in the Central Division with 71 points. So this streak started well before any of this “bandwagon” talk.
Blackhawks fans have continually and strongly supported the team in the last 11 seasons, and that’s great to see. The Blackhawks are responding with more wins of late, as they’ve now posted three straight victories. The next chance to cheer at the UC comes Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.