The Blackhawks went 1-0-1 this past weekend, falling 4-3 in OT to the Kings and then beating the Ducks 3-2 on Patrick Kane’s game winner in OT. Chicago picked up 3-of-4 possible points in the back-to-back.
1. Kane looked re-energized playing with Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome.
Kane picked up two points against the Ducks, but more importantly he played with an offensive flair we’ve grown accustomed to seeing every time he steps on the ice.
In Kane’s five previous games, he looked frustrated and wasn’t creating enough offense. He had a 43.9 Corsi-For rate (CF%) at 5-on-5, was on the ice for one goal for and six against and only averaged 2.6 shots per game.
On Sunday, the DeBrincat - Strome - Kane line played 12:43 minutes at 5-on-5, had a 60.0 CF%, generated seven scoring chances and two high danger chances (HDCF). Here’s one of those HDCF from the second period:
Over the summer, Kane invited DeBrincat and Strome to Darryl Belfry’s skills and development camp. They spent lots of time skating together as a line in drills and scrimmages building their chemistry. Check out Scott Power’s story on it.
That chemistry was apparent all game in the offensive zone. They were interchanging positions, throwing saucers across the slot right on the tape, getting the defenseman involved with give and go’s off the blue line and Kane played with a confidence and passion that’s been missing in recent games.
Give this trio more time together, they looked special.
2. Adam Boqvist adds a much needed skillset to the blue line - getting shots through screens and on net.
A shot from the point doesn’t always have to be a 100 mph slap shot that goes bar down. Lots of times, the most dangerous shot is a quick wrister that’s a few inches off the ice that creates a rebound or gets tipped by a forward in the slot.
Boqvist can do just that:
One of the primary reasons the Blackhawks’ defensemen have barely created any offense this season is they’ve struggled to get shots from the point on net. Their attempts either get easily blocked, they miss the net or they take too long to wind up allowing the goalie to optimize their angle and defenders to push Chicago’s forwards out of shooting lanes.
Boqvist’s quick release and accurate wrist shot has already paid dividends two games into his NHL career. He buried a chance from the top of the left circle and fired two more shots on goal from the point against the Ducks. He has a special ability to catch a pass and then disguise what he’s planning to do with the puck until it’s off his stick and on net in a blink of an eye.
With Boqvist in the lineup, Chicago’s forwards will get a significant boost in rebound and tip opportunities in the high danger area.
3. Andrew Shaw and Kirby Dach’s ice time at 5-on-5 is odd.
vs. Kings: 7:12 minutes, zero shots, 26.7 CF%
vs. Ducks: 8:49 minutes, one shot. 56.3 CF%
vs. Kings: 7:37 minutes, two shots, two hits, 40.0 CF%
vs. Ducks: 7:21 minutes, zero shots, one hit, 30.8 CF%
Dach and Shaw have been stuck playing fourth line minutes and it’s suffocating their offensive potential at 5-on-5.
Shaw’s best and most energetic game this season was when he played 16:53 against the Sharks, collected two goals and five hits. In his last five games, he’s averaging below 11 minutes of time and only has four shots and six hits. Colliton said earlier in the season that “We’re a better team because we have him.” What happened to that mentality?
On the other hand, Dach is staying with the Blackhawks for the rest of the season and will get a chance to develop all season against NHL competition. What’s the point of keeping him in the NHL to only play him eight minutes a game at 5-on-5?
Dach was making an impact offensively at 5-on-5 when he was playing top 9 minutes in his first four games with a 55.3 CF%, two points and six individual scoring chances. In his last four games, he has a 39.7 CF%, zero points and four shots.
The lack of ice time at 5-on-5 for Shaw and Dach just doesn’t make any sense.