Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ 5 Thoughts From Blowout Of Anaheim Ducks

By Colin Likas
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 27: Alex DeBrincat
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 27: Alex DeBrincat /
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The Chicago Blackhawks’ offense continued to roll Monday as it put up a touchdown in a home victory over the shorthanded Anaheim Ducks

Monday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks really was a should-win situation for the Chicago Blackhawks. And they did indeed get the job done, as they posted a 7-3 win over a Ducks squad that was missing Ryan Kesler, Ryan Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell and others.

Let’s take a look at five observations from the win, which saw the Blackhawks play at the United Center for the first time in almost two weeks.

Alex DeBrincat looks great

While I do think the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus was trying to stir the pot a bit with this tweet about DeBrincat (which he successfully did), it’s definitely worth noting DeBrincat had another really solid performance Monday.

He potted his first career hat trick, and had three goals by the time the second period was over. He added an assist for good measure. What he really showed Monday was good finishing ability.

On his first goal, Nick Schmaltz did an excellent job corralling a Brent Seabrook shot off the end boards, flying around the back of the net and hitting a wide-open DeBrincat at the circles. The one-timer beat John Gibson easily.

And on DeBrincat’s third strike, Patrick Kane was seeking him out the entire way to finish a 2-on-1. The second goal was the result of DeBrincat being tenacious in winning a rebound battle with three Ducks, though it definitely helped that Ryan Miller was brutally out of position.

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DeBrincat is making great strides of late, showing more of a two-way game and finishing his offensive chances. Coach Joel Quenneville called DeBrincat “a special player” after the game, which is an extremely positive sign given DeBrincat is 19 years of age.

The revivalists

So I write about three specific Blackhawks needing to produce more, and all three of them produced more than one point Monday. That’s timely stuff.

Schmaltz’s vision was rock-solid all night, and it paid off on DeBrincat’s first goal. Schmaltz also received a primary assist on Artem Anisimov‘s strike before actually shooting the puck on Kane’s second pretty feed of the night.

Hartman was positively noticeable as well, which hasn’t happened much of late. He directly set up goals for Patrick Sharp and DeBrincat by getting to the net and working hard. And speaking of Sharp, it was nice to see him cash in on that short-side bid after Gibson stoned him from the same spot earlier in the first period.

It’s just one game, so far from a trend, but it’s good to see all these guys cracking the scoresheet multiple times in a game.

Don’t forget your goalie

Corey Crawford‘s statline is unimpressive, with a .893 save percentage on 23 shot attempts. But beyond Crow pooping out a puck on Anaheim’s second goal, I’m fairly sure he saw 22 dangerous shot attempts.

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Nick Ritchie kept popping up on the doorstep for prime opportunities, and Crow was turning away him and others more often than not. This could have been the Devils game all over again if Crow hadn’t stayed alert throughout.

Third pairing an odd eye test

I’ve been told by some that fancy stats can never replace the eye test. Most of the time, I’ll disagree with that. Monday’s game, however, offered something different.

The third defensive pairing of Seabrook and Connor Murphy wasn’t bad. But why did it feel like so many times when Crow was sprawling around the ice, that those two were also skating?

Well, maybe I just remember a few very distinct moments, because the fancy stats show Seabrook and Murphy both going above 78 percent in Corsi-for at 5-on-5. Murphy was at a ridiculous 83.33 percent to lead the team.

Meanwhile, Cody Franson and Duncan Keith were the only Blackhawks besides Anisimov below even in possession, and they were well below it at 41.18 and 33.33 percent, respectively. But while I did see Franson get burned badly once and that pairing out for some ugly chances against, at least Franson and Keith aren’t starting a bunch of their shifts in the offensive end.

That’s what Seabrook and Murphy are doing. I really think their numbers Monday were more a product of playing behind a second line that was mauling the Ducks all night, but at least both guys potted an assist. Still, not sure what to think about this pairing long-term.

Quick turnaround

This isn’t so much a though on the game as it is a curiosity heading into tonight’s tilt against Nashville. The assumption heading in was that Crow would get that game, but now it’s more likely Anton Forsberg gets it.

But what if he doesn’t? It’d be pretty crazy for Q to turn to Crow again considering how busy the Blackhawks are this week (they also play Thursday, Saturday and Sunday), but maybe Q turns to Forsberg on Thursday at home against Dallas? Then goes with a split for the Dallas/Los Angeles two-step over the weekend?

Next: DeBrincat Picks Up First Career Hat Trick

It seems entirely likely Forsberg will get two starts in this five-game stretch, but just how those will come about is a bit of a mystery right now. I’ll just say this: I wouldn’t be completely stunned if we see Crow man the net tonight at Bridgestone Arena.

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