After ending up on the wrong side of the scoreboard in five of their last six games, the Chicago Blackhawks carved out a victory on home ice, knocking off the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0 at the United Center on Wednesday night.
The scoring was brief. Artem Anisimov scored the first power play for Chicago in what felt like forever, tapping home a rebound for a 1-0 Hawks lead in the middle of the second period. Jonathan Toews got a breakaway and tucked one between the legs of Brian Elliott 20 seconds later to double Chicago’s lead.
Corey Crawford turned in another excellent performance in net, stopping 35 shots for a shutout win. Alex DeBrincat added an empty netter in the third period to provide the final margin of victory.
PHI GOALS: Zip. Zilch. Nada.
CHI GOALS: Anisimov (4), Toews (4), DeBrincat (2)
Before I get to the three thoughts, let’s add this disclaimer: I could’ve put Crawford’s excellent performance down below, but it’s almost beating a dead horse at this point. Crawford is a great goalie. He’s the best goalie in the Western Conference. If you haven’t figured that out by now, I don’t know that you’ll ever learn it.
It’s a start!
When a team has lost five out of six, any game that earns a pair of points is one that cannot be complained about too much. The Hawks desperately needed a win, and they finally got one tonight. It’s not a win that will demand much reflection in the future, but two points are two points. Disjointed is still the best word I’d use to describe this Chicago team. They seem to be passing up on too many chances to shoot, and when passing is the correct decision, it seems like the puck is always a few inches off the mark or hits a bad patch of ice and jumps over a stick. Shot attempts that generate rebounds never seem to find the stick of a Hawk. We’ll see if Wednesday’s win can affect some change for the Hawks.
What to make of Cody Franson?
It’s hard to reach a definitive conclusion about the Hawks veteran addition to the blue line. He’s looked right at home while manning the point on the Hawks’ power play. It’s not a coincidence that the Hawks snapped their 0-for-18 power play drought with him on the point: Franson’s shots seem to find their way to the net more often than not. But later, on a different power play, he made an ill-fated attempt to hold in the puck at the blue line, prompting a 2-on-0 break for the Flyers. Franson is only 30 years old, so there’s reason to believe he has more hockey left in the tank. I’m not sure his future with the Hawks is on the top pairing opposite Duncan Keith as it was tonight, but it’s worth noting that Franson had the highest CF% on the team tonight at 62.96%, with Keith in second at 61.11%.
I thought the Saad-Schmaltz-Kane line was going to do more
The last time Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane were on the same line, they damn near won a Western Conference Final on their own, leading a spirited Hawks comeback in that incredible 2014 series against the Los Angeles Kings. Andrew Shaw centered that duo last time, and they get a major jump up in playmaking ability with Nick Schmaltz working the pivot. Combined, that trio was plus-seven in Corsi events, although they were a victim of over-passing at times. But if that group stays together for a while, I’d wager that they’re going to figure it out and start lighting up opposing defenses.
- Corey Crawford (CHI) — 35 shots, 35 saves, another dominant performance
- Artem Anisimov (CHI) — 1 goal, 1 assist (a power play goal! No kidding!)
- Jonathan Toews (CHI) — 1 goal, 2 SOG, 19:47 TOI