The Chicago Blackhawks were woefully outshot 30-16 this game, with 15 against in the first period.
This Chicago Blackhawks team was what we expected to see… On the offensive side of things. They took advantage of their powerplay this time, scoring twice on their five chances. Carl Soderberg was the main reason behind both of those goals with his positioning.
Khudobin couldn’t see Alex Debrincat’s shot as Soderberg was standing right in front of him. Khudobin looked one side, so Debrincat shot to the other side. The penalty kill went a full 5-5, which is a welcomed change compared to their 14 for 27 (I think) before that.
Lank the Tank
This game could have gotten out of control early in the game, with the Dallas Stars outshooting them 15-4 generating many chances, Kevin Lankinen had to stand on his head to give his team a chance. The Stars generated multiple chances against him, with ten minutes of penalty kill time. Lankinen did an amazing job allowing his team to play with the lead, despite the interesting choices his team made on defense.
In that shot off the post on the penalty kill, Lankinen recovered quickly and even dropped his stick to have better mobility with his blocker. He swatted the puck out of the danger zone, and the Blackhawks were able to clear the puck. He had an amazing performance last night.
The Blackhawks were on fire on both of their special teams units, with a 40% success rate on the powerplay, and a full 100% kill rate.
Carl Soderberg was amazing, screening Khudobin perfectly, mirroring his positioning to allow Alex Debrincat to have a shooting lane in Khudobin’s blind spot. He looked to his left, so Debrincat shot to his right in the “open” net. Soderberg also scored a goal in front of the net, tipping the puck past Khudobin again. The powerplay has threats in all areas of the ice, and Patrick Kane working high in the zone can’t be left alone, so the penalty kill has to spread out. They cycle very well, with NEEDED movement, not just because.
You can see them preparing for a play, whether it be Kane with the puck skating through the zone, or Adam Boqvist handling the puck at the point. Everyone is moving to make space. Soderberg and Ryan Carpenter stand in front of the net religiously. Except for their “bumper” play, where Carpenter or Soderberg pops out as a shooting option, based on the side the ‘Hawks are working the puck.
The penalty kill has gotten a bit more aggressive as of late, with the defensemen stacking on the blueline. This proved to work in some cases, but almost caused a goal against. Calvin de Haan allowed a Dallas Star to skate right past him into the zone, from a D to D pass. They are also much more aggressive on the puck carrier, forcing the puck out of the zone instead of standing still and hoping they block a shot or a pass for the clear. They do the work, and they got the results last night.
The Chicago Blackhawks don’t usually rack up a ton of shot blocks, but they got twenty of them in this game. They got in front of the shooting lane last night, which lightened the already heavy load for Lankinen. This helps teams win hockey games, and this is another element of the Blackhawks’ play that has improved since their two blowout losses.
This was a solid outing by the Blackhawks, with improved play by everyone compared to the other night. Lankinen was a brick wall once again, and the Blackhawks played harder to make it up to him. They scored three goals on four shots, and they didn’t force their chances. This usually doesn’t work that well for the Blackhawks, but it did this game. Their special teams were both spectacular, and the shot-blocking was a welcomed surprise.
The Blackhawks do not have any games off, though. They begin yet another tough stretch of games on Saturday night vs the Panthers.