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Five Thoughts: Patrick Kane leads Chicago Blackhawks past Buffalo Sabres

jnikac
BUFFALO, NY - FEBRUARY 1: Patrick Kane #88 and Cam Ward #30 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate a 7-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres after an NHL game on February 1, 2019 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Joe Hrycych/NHLI via Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - FEBRUARY 1: Patrick Kane #88 and Cam Ward #30 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate a 7-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres after an NHL game on February 1, 2019 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Joe Hrycych/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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BUFFALO, NY – FEBRUARY 1: Drake Caggiula #91 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates his first period goal against the Buffalo Sabres during an NHL game on February 1, 2019 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY – FEBRUARY 1: Drake Caggiula #91 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates his first period goal against the Buffalo Sabres during an NHL game on February 1, 2019 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images) /

2 – Caggiula finally rewarded

After only recording one point in his first eight games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Drake Caggiula scored a goal and picked up an assist tonight. Even though he’s not on the scoresheet every night, he sure is noticeable. Caggiula skates hard each game and does the little things right. He’s fast and looks good on the left wing of Jonathan Toews.

His possession stats aren’t the best (42.91% Corsi-for at all strengths and 46.7% Corsi-for at 5-on-5), but nine games is a very small sample size. I think if he continues to play with Toews and Kane, his possession numbers will increase and so will his chances to create offense. Caggiula is acclimating to Jeremy Colliton’s system well and is displaying flashes of serious talent. He could definitely be a solid middle-six forward for the Blackhawks for the rest of this season and also in the near future.

3 – Gustafsson’s rough night

For the majority of the game, Erik Gustafsson looked fine. He was second among Chicago Blackhawks defensemen in Corsi-for percentage (50) behind Carl Dahlstrom. He even had an assist tonight! Unfortunately, luck is not on his side as of late.

On the Jack Eichel goal, he stood directly in front of Cam Ward, blocking the goaltender’s view of the shot from the point. However, Eichel’s tip was so good that Ward probably wouldn’t have stopped that anyway. It’s also not his problem that his defensive partner,

Gustav Forsling

, got beat clean in a foot race with Eichel for the puck and then got knocked down by him, too.

On the Sabres’ second goal, Gustafsson stood at the side of the net in decent position. However, the puck went off his stick when Skinner passed the puck to Jason Pominville. That resulted in Buffalo cutting Chicago’s lead to 4-2.

Chicago Blackhawks fans have been harping on Erik Gustafsson’s lack of defensive awareness a lot lately now that he’s not scoring as much. But it doesn’t help that he ended up with Forsling as his defensive partner tonight, who has a sub-50 Corsi-for percentage and played an awful game tonight coming off injured reserve. In my opinion, you can’t pin that pairing’s bad game on Gustafsson when he was clearly hindered by who he played with.

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