The Chicago Blackhawks didn’t seem off with the healthy-scratching of longtime defensive stalwart Brent Seabrook, beating up on a struggling Ottawa squad on the road Tuesday
If the Chicago Blackhawks felt any ill effects from losing alternate captain Brent Seabrook to a healthy scratch ahead of Tuesday’s game against Ottawa, they weren’t shown once the puck dropped.
The Blackhawks thumped the lowly Senators 8-2 to move into a Western Conference wild-card spot. They can’t rest on their laurels, though, with the Minnesota Wild coming to the United Center tonight. The Wild, along with the Calgary Flames, share the 48-point mark with Chicago.
Let’s take a look at some thoughts from Tuesday’s triumph.
Special teams success
In Tuesday’s roundtable discussion, I stated that Blackhawks special teams were a big concern and needed to be much better. Well, both fit the bill last night.
Jordan Oesterle, who took Duncan Keith’s spot on the left point, looked like he had been a powerplay quarterback all of his career. The powerplay was running on all cylinders, which came in handy in a penalty-filled game. The four powerplay goals were a season-high for the team. The penalty kill had plenty of practice and had a perfect night as well.
The Patrick Kane show
It was a historic night on a few notes. First off, I’m quite certain that was the first time that Seabrook was a healthy scratch as a Blackhawk, and rarely have we seen Keith not on the first powerplay unit.
Patrick Kane, sporting the “A” on his shoulder in place of Seabrook, had a career game. Kaner’s five-point night and four assists were both firsts in his impressive career. The eight goals by Chicago were the most it has scored this season since the opening-night blowout of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
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Shoot the puck and good things happen
After a rather tentative start, the ‘Hawks gained some momentum with two rather soft goals, but both were the result of Chicago players shooting the puck at every opportunity. After so many close games this season when goals were often difficult to come by, the team needed a laugher like this to gain some confidence and build some chemistry.
Nick Schmaltz continued his goal-scoring ways with two tonight, both on the powerplay. Richard Panik finally potted one after 20-something scoreless games. And Patrick Sharp is on one of his streaks that Blackhawks fans are so familiar with.
The first line continues to roll
Since Vinnie Hinostroza entered the fold, the first line is playing with renewed vigor. Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews are back to their old selves in recent games, and Vinnie is all over the ice, on both sides of the puck.
The lineup to end then?
I think coach Joel Quenneville has possibly found a winning combination up front; the lines look well balanced. But will the head coach split up the winning lineup and bring back Seabrook next game?
That’s a tough one. Historically, Q sticks with the same lineup after a win, but I think we see Seabrook back next game. He won’t have long to ponder as Chicago is back at the United Center tonight for a tilt against Central Division rival Minnesota.