It says something that we're through five games during this NHL regular season, and the only thing standing between the Chicago Blackhawks and a perfect start is Jonas Hiller. The Hawks continued their strong stretch to start the year, adding another one to the win column, in taking a 4-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at the United Center on Tuesday evening.
It was a game marked by the first appearance of Kris Versteeg in the lineup, much to the chagrin of the large majority of Chicago fans. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, it was the first start of the year for Antti Raanta between the pipes, as he stepped in net in place of the injured Corey Crawford. All in all, it was the same thing we've seen for the last few games from this team, just with actual goals and no shootout. They fired the puck at Steve Mason over 40 times, which will keep them atop the league in shots per game, without question. But who really stood out for the victors on Tuesday? Let's take a look.
3. Third Line
Brad Richards and Bryan Bickell were much improved against the Nashville Predators on Saturday night, as each was much more noticeable. The hope was that adding Brandon Saad to the mix would help to spark them and help take them to the next level. That was certainly the case, as the trio combined for five points. Saad and Bickell each recorded a goal and an assist, while Richards added a helper. Each finished over 65 percent in Corsi% and was easily the most noticeable line throughout the night at even strength.
2. Antti Raanta
There's sure to be some talk of a goaltending controversy across various social network mediums, because that's just the way these types of things work. As nonsensical as it is, Raanta was outstanding in earning a shutout, the first of the year by a Chicago netminder. He was forced into action earlier than expected, as it was assumed he'd take the second half of a back-to-back later this weekend.
Nonetheless, Raanta stepped in and made 32 saves for the Blackhawks. He lucked out a few times, as defensemen were able to clear out loose pucks, but he did look quite strong overall. It'll be interesting to see if he gets a bit of extra time moving forward, and what he does with this time. We saw some of this from him last year, but it was also mixed in with some rough stretches. Crawford's status will obviously affect his situation, but you have to like what you saw from the Finnish goaltender on Tuesday.
1. Patrick Kane
If you believe the commentating crew on NBC, Patrick Kane still doesn't have a hat trick at any point in his NHL career.
Well, this is awk...oh.
Regardless of the inaccuracies of the broadcast, Kane was outstanding on Tuesday night. He netted a pair of goals, including one on the power play. He played well in the defensive zone, for the most part, as well, adding a takeaway and commenting on his defensive focus in the postgame interview. His possession numbers weren't terrific, as the second line was pretty middle-of-the-road in that regard, but he still finished with a Corsi% near 59. A solid night and already his second multi-point game of the season.
Randy Holt is a staff writer for Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.