Monday night had a little of everything for Blackhawks fans young and old. An original six matchup on the road against a team perhaps favored to win it all this year, 4 different #1 overall picks on the ice, the Matthews hat trick streak, and of course Connor Bedard playing in Toronto for the first time as a member of the National Hockey League.
A 4-1 commanding victory is what the result was (a victory predicted by me albeit not in OT) and it came from an entire team effort. Not only did Arvid Soderblom continue his strong start (stopping all but 1 shot on goal - 34/35), but the young defenseman did an excellent job clogging center ice on forward rushes by Toronto.
As I said in the linked prior article, I thought the Blackhawks had a distinct advantage when it came to the Foligno - Dickinson - Perry line, and that came to fruition. Not only did the line make big stops on defense, but they generated chances and even got a breakaway goal on a Corey Perry wrister.
Speaking of the Perry goal, the assist came from Alex Vlasic on one of the best cross ice saucer passes I've seen in quite some time. It hit perfectly on Perry's right side just as he hit the offensive blue line for a tape to tape bullseye. I continue to be impressed with the young defender and he is quickly becoming one of my favorite young Blackhawks to watch.
While Connor Bedard and Auston Matthews didn't light the lamp this evening, it wasn't for lack of effort or jaw dropping plays made by the two #1 overall picks. Whether it was Matthews shrugging off a body check behind the net to get a wrap around shot on net or Bedard shifting to left possession and speeding past an aging John Klingberg to get a great chance on Holl's high glove side.... this evening had it all from a hockey fan's perspective (especially a Blackhawks' fans perspective).
I did want to single out the play of Boris Katchouk tonight. I believe that he is fighting for his NHL future at the moment. To me, it showed that he also knows this. While only playing under 11 minutes in a 4th line role, he played with intensity, physicality, and effort I've not seen before. A +2 with an assist and 2 hits with constant pressure and possession keeps on the road in Toronto in just 10:53 is a feat as far as I'm concerned.
The Blackhawks are now 2-2 on the young season and have a game remaining on this road trip when they take on the Avalanche in Colorado on Thursday evening.