After back-to-back games during the weekend, the Chicago Blackhawks only earned one point. Chicago lost 7-3 on the road against the St Louis Blues before returning home to fall 2-1 in overtime to the Edmonton Oilers.
Let’s check some team trends following the last two games:
Remember the last stock report when we talked exclusively about Patrick Kane being on a record-setting pace this season? Well, he’s still riding the same wave. Kane tallied his seventh assist of the season against the Oilers last night, and scored goals 10 and 11 against the Blues the night before.
Kane leads the NHL in goals, and is only three points behind Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen (21) for the league lead.
For Chicago to make any run at a playoff berth this season, the offense must continue to run through Kane.
Anisimov and Saad
While we’re at it, lets throw some love to the rest of the second line. Artem Anisimov and Brandon Saad have really added some depth to the second line, creating more opportunities for Kane to shine. Anisimov tallied a goal with two assists Saturday, with Saad adding an assist of his own.
As the top line continues to ride the play of Alex DeBrincat and Jonathan Toews, a consistent second line is going to be a much appreciated weapon for coach Joel Quenneville.
It has been eight months since Cam Ward has allowed only one goal or fewer in regulation when starting in goal. Ward was clearly due for a solid performance, and a solid performance it was Sunday. He held strong with a 24 saves on 26 shots (.923 save percentage) with a few beautiful saves to keep Chicago in the game.
Following a tough night for Corey Crawford on Saturday, Ward’s performance was what the Hawks needed to compete the following night.
Despite looking at his performance in just one game, Saturday night was a brutal for Crawford. Along with limited help from his defense, Crawford allowed the first goal of the night only 18 seconds into the first period. He allowed two goals on the first seven shots from St. Louis, and gave up six goals on 36 shots.
A game like that was bound to happen at some point, and Crawford was performing well in his last three starts. Let’s hope that Saturday’s catastrophic start is only a bump in the road, and not a detour from success.
These guys had a rough weekend. Despite a respectable amount of pressure from the defensemen on offense, the DeBrincat, Toews, Dominik Kahun, Duncan Keith and Henri Jokiharju were not the sharpest tools in the shed. Combining for a minus-5 during the weekend, these guys will need to shake off the last two games and look ahead to Wednesday if Chicago wants to be in the win column again.
After his time on the ice began to dwindle heading into the weekend, Rutta played in only 9:17 minutes of Saturday’s contest. He was whistled for two penalty minutes and only put one shot on goal. He was a healthy scratch Sunday night.
With Brandon Davidson and Brandon Manning struggling to fill the third line spot, somebody needs to step up to fill that last 12-14 minutes of ice time needed. Gustav Forsling should be back soon (maybe even by Wednesday) from offseason wrist surgery, which means Rutta better start holding his end of defense. Otherwise, he’ll be playing elsewhere at the trade deadline.