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5 Chicago Blackhawks Thoughts After First Shootout Win Of 2017-18

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CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 21: Members of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate after a shootout win against the Ottawa Senators at the United Center on February 21, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Senators 3-2 in a shoot out. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 21: Members of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate after a shootout win against the Ottawa Senators at the United Center on February 21, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Senators 3-2 in a shoot out. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday achieved a first this season that wasn’t negative, winning a shootout to dispose of the Ottawa Senators

It’s odd to think the Chicago Blackhawks aren’t that much better than the Ottawa Senators right now, but here we are. Still, the Blackhawks pulled out a 3-2 victory Wednesday over that opponent, and in doing so captured their first shootout success of the season.

There are times when a team just doesn’t participate in many shootouts in a given year. This has been such a season for the Blackhawks, as it was just their second shootout of the run — and first at the United Center.

Let’s look at some thoughts from this game/hockey in general (because, frankly, you can only get so much out of a 3-2 victory over the Senators at this point in the season).

How’s this for a stat?

The Blackhawks are well out of the postseason chase, barring a series of miracles. While we shouldn’t go about expecting such things, there are some interesting numbers to look at beyond points deficits.

The Blackhawks have 25 regulation/overtime victories and have just reached 60 points for the season. The team in front of Chicago, the Colorado Avalanche, has 31 ROW for 68 points. Makes sense.

Here’s what doesn’t make sense. The Anaheim Ducks, coming into the evening, had just 26 ROW but 71 points. And they were also just a point out of the second wild card spot. Just goes to show you, the pity point can go a long way in today’s NHL.

My Cousin Vinnie

Vinnie Hinostroza continues to be quite adept at being … well, adept. David Kampf poked a puck loose, and Hinostroza not only won the chase to it, but pushed it farther ahead into the offensive zone.

He then proceeded to set up the Blackhawks’ most dangerous scorer, Patrick Kane, for a nice chance right between the circles. While the goal is likely one Senators netminder Mike Condon would like to have back, plays like that are more often than not going to result in Blackhawks goals.

This leads me to a thought from the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus on Hinostroza’s resurgence this season.

If you’re going to search for positives amid a lost season, this is definitely an easy one. Why it took the Blackhawks so long to call up Hinostroza when the team was average at best is beyond anyone’s comprehension.

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Nice night for Forsberg

Plenty of the conversation on social media after this one centered around Anton Forsberg gaining some much-needed confidence with this victory.

And he should be plenty happy with his effort. The first goal he allowed saw Connor Murphy scoot up way too high and get dragged around, leading to a chance in the goal mouth. The second was a pure snipe by Matt Duchene, so no hard feelings there.

Forsberg was also solid in the shootout, permitting goals to just Duchene and Matt Hoffman. Nothing to complain about there. Forsberg finished with 32 saves on 34 shots prior to the shootout, so it’s not like he had a light workload. The third period especially saw him make some critical stops.

I’m genuinely curious to see what the Blackhawks do with Forsberg after this season. A lot will depend on the long-term health of Corey Crawford, but I really hope Forsberg’s confidence isn’t beyond repair after the damaging “get yanked the instant you make a mistake because I like Jeff Glass more” routine Joel Quenneville pulled.

Speaking of Corey Crawford

So, it sounds like the Blackhawks have officially given up hope on Crow returning this season. Thank goodness for that. Let the man rest from something that is clearly serious.

At this point, given he was back on the ice and seemingly near a return and then disappeared again, the idea that Crow has some sort of post-concussion issue seems fair. That’s a scary prospect, as those problems can be career ending in the worst of circumstances.

This is among the reasons I hope Forsberg is still comfortable in Chicago. The Blackhawks could go out and try to repeat what they were doing ahead of this season in acquiring Forsberg, but the Crow-shaped safety net may not be there. The Blackhawks could be in serious trouble with their future goaltending situation, as no one in the minors projects as close to NHL-ready.

But rounding back to Crow, I really hope a long break from here on out helps him get well, not only for hockey matters, but for his long-term living. Too many guys get messed up by injuries in the pro sports world, and Crow seems like a genuinely good person who takes a ton of abuse from his fan base. Let’s hope an offseason-plus of downtime aids his well-being.

Mixed signals

I realize analyzing ice times in a lost season is probably pointless, but there’s just something weird in how the ice time was distributed tonight during a home game against a team even worse than the Blackhawks.

Ryan Hartman is reportedly among the guys Chicago might trade, and he played less than 11 minutes. That’s not exactly a way to showcase someone you’re interested in moving.

Meanwhile, Tomas Jurco and Artem Anisimov both played ice times (16:23 and 17:15, respectively) befitting guys who could be on the move. Granted, both were slotted into top-six roles, but it’s obvious neither guy is truly fit for that duty.

Next: What Do Blackhawks' Latest Line Changes Mean?

Is that rumor we heard about Winnipeg kicking the tires on Hartman not all there? Who knows. But after the Blackhawks are done selling off assets at the deadline, whatever those may be, I’m hopeful we get to see Hinostroza, Kampf and Anthony Duclair play more than 13 minutes a night.

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