Making a pass after faking a slapshot
This has been one of the biggest tools in Duncan Keith’s arsenal, and it appears that Erik Gustafsson was paying attention. He used a similar ploy to set up Alex DeBrincat for a game-winning goal in overtime against the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 13 and again executed it perfectly for Kane’s GWG on Tuesday.
Brandon Saad’s confidence
It’s probably been months since Saad left the United Center feeling as upbeat as he did on Tuesday night. A pair of goals on seven shots provided Saad with the first concrete evidence that he’s back on the right track. Saad’s been known to score in bunches, including a six-goal, six-game eruption to start the 2017-18 season, so more nights like that could be on the way.
Chicago’s puck possession
After the Blackhawks were handled by the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tampa Bay Lightning in the possession game — Chicago had just 42% of even-strength shot attempts in each game, per Natural Stat Trick — Chicago flipped the script against Anaheim, owning 58 percent of the of even-strength shot attempts and a 9-5 advantage in high-danger scoring chances, after trailing in that category a collective 37-11 in the prior two games.
Offensive zone penalties
Marcus Kruger has been guilty of one of these in each of the last two games and Nick Schmaltz was also given a minor penalty about 200 feet away from the Blackhawks net. For a team with a struggling penalty kill (just 78.7 percent), taking penalties that far from the goal are not a recipe for success.
Concerns about Corey Crawford
We’re going to keep finding ways to mention Crawford because of how important he is to this team — and because he turned in his typical stellar performance on Tuesday night. Crawford only faced 25 shots and stopped 24 of them, making every save he was expected to make, a few he didn’t, and only allowed a goal when Richard Rakell had a 150-foot breakaway. It’s still mind-boggling, how quickly one of Chicago’s biggest question marks has been remedied in under a week.
Turnovers at either blue line
And speaking of that Rakell breakaway, Jonathan Toews picked an awful time to commit a turnover, with two of his teammates already deep in the offensive zone and Gustafsson taking off in that direction after seeing an opening. The NHL is so much faster these days that committing turnovers at either blue line is a virtual guarantee to spring an odd-man rush in the opposite direction. This mistake was painfully common against the Lightning on Sunday and is something the Blackhawks must stop doing.