“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” That could be applied to the Chicago Blackhawks’ last two games, each on a short Canada road trip.
Check that. It was the worst of times in Toronto. It was the not so bad of times in Montreal. After playing two terrible periods of hockey in Toronto, the Chicago Blackhawks almost continued the trend in Montreal.
After a great start by the top line Tuesday night, the ‘Hawks fell behind the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 while looking flat. However, they did manage to survive a 5-on-3 penalty kill to avoid digging a deep hole for themselves.
It wasn’t until the 17:53 mark that they came alive with a snipe from rookie Alex DeBrincat. With that spark, they scored 19 seconds later on a bang-bang play as Brandon Saad scored right in front of the net with feeds from Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik.
The ‘Hawks tallied again in the second period on another bang-bang play, with Cody Franson firing a hot pass to DeBrincat, who touch-passed to Artem Anisimov for an easy tap-in.
’Hawks win 3-1.
“It was the season of light”
A few good points from this rebound game:
The top line continues to be a dominating line. It is pushing the puck through the neutral zone quickly and using their power to dictate the play in the offensive zone
had an outstanding game. He is 3-0-0 with a goals-against average of 1.00 and an incredible save percentage of .971.
Da Windy City
Jan Rutta continues to impress with solid play in all three zones. He has bailed out the younger Gustav Forsling on several occasions.
DeBrincat scored his first career NHL goal. A thrill for him and a relief to get that first goal out of the way.
The penalty kill was effective, even killing off a two-man disadvantage.
They scored a powerplay goal. Yup. They actually did that.
“It was the season of darkness”
And some not-so-great points from this game:
- Penalties continue to plague this team, with five in this game, including the aforementioned two-man disadvantage.
- Forsling continues to be mistake-prone in the defensive zone but is being bailed out by his partner Rutta.
- Line 2 is an enigma, with Patrick Kane not having a skilled partner to get crazy with. THEY NEED NICK SCHMALTZ BACK!
- Production from the bottom six is lacking, with coach Joel Quenneville double-shifting Kane there to provide some spark.
- The powerplay continues to have problems entering the offensive zone.
It IS the epoch of belief
Four games in and the ‘Hawks have earned seven out of eight possible points. Yes, there are some rough edges that need to be worked on. But, what we’re seeing so far is a promising blend of experience and youth.
Coach Q has not used the quick hook by benching young players after committing a mistake. Only Connor Murphy has experienced the healthy scratch, and we’ll see how the young defenseman rebounds from this.
I’ll be at the Thursday game against the Minnesota Wild, who many have picked as the front-runner in the Central Division. This will be another good test for the boys, and I’ll be looking for the weak points to be addressed against a worthy foe. We have everything before us.
I’ll be tweeting from the United Center and serve up my observations on the game right here at Blackhawk Up.