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3 up, 3 down from Blackhawks’ 2-1 OT win over Avalanche

Chicago moves five points out of a wild card spot. Who is trending up and down?

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Chicago Blackhawks David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

During the Blackhawks critical 2-1 overtime win over the Avalanche, Chicago managed to generate more high danger scoring chances than the opposition for the first time since their 7-1 drubbing of the Arizona Coyotes on March 11. Additionally, the Blackhawks controlled possession of the puck for most of the game, especially in the third period when they owned a 86-percent Corsi-For rating, created 13 scoring chances and only allowed three shots against.

Puck Possession Game Flow

It was a dominant third period and it would have been extremely frustrating if Philipp Grubauer stole this well-deserved victory from Chicago.

After the game, Jeremy Colliton said it was “fun to stand behind all those guys tonight, they really played hard.” Whatever happens in these last seven games, the fact that the Blackhawks refrain from allowing poor performances to snowball like earlier in the season demonstrates a commendable attitude and character that are vital ingredients of a winning culture. They continue to grind it out and stay in this wild card race despite all of the whispers of an aging core, tanking, bad bounces and all of the pressure that comes with wearing the Indian head.

I was proud of the Blackhawks on Sunday night and I am excited for the future of this team.

Trending Up

Blocked Shots

The Blackhawks blocked 23 shots in route to a 2-1 OT win. It was the first time they blocked more than 20 shots, since their 2-0 shutout win over the Montreal Canadiens on March 16. Sacrificing your body and stepping in front of wicked NHL quality shots is not an easy thing to do. It takes a lot of courage and a hunger to win.

Brent Seabrook - Five blocked shots, plus multiple shot saving poke checks.

Duncan Keith - Four blocks

Jonathan Toews - Three blocks

Connor Murphy - Three blocks

Brendan Perlini - Two blocks

As the playoffs loom, teams battling for their postseason aspirations tend to clog up the slot and force shots from the perimeter. Playing that style of hockey requires blocking shots. Chicago accepted the challenge and minimized the number of shots and chances that got through to Corey Crawford.

Artem Anisimov

Anisimov was impressive Sunday night. He won 75-percent of his face-offs, the biggest one being his clean win to Seabrook on the power play that ended up in the back of the net off of a skillful tip by Arty.

He had three shots, one block, contributed to eight shots for and only gave up one shot against, and played 19:13 minutes - the most he has been on the ice since Feb 27 against the Anaheim Ducks.

Jonathan Toews

Toews led by example Sunday night. He had that extra fire in his eyes that we all grew accustomed to during pivotal moments in the playoffs. Toews did not end up on the scoresheet with a goal or an assist, but he was easily the most dominant Blackhawks player offensively. He had six shots on net, generated 12 scoring chances with Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane in 5-on-5 play, and had numerous opportunities off of one timers and wristers from the slot. If it was not for Grubauer’s excellence in net, Toews could have potted a hat trick.

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Gustav Forsling

Forsling has started in eight straight games and for good reason. He has broken up plays with sprawling poke checks, has rushed the puck with some intriguing speed and has been a reliable partner to Brent Seabrook.

However, there were a few times in Sunday’s win that Forsling did not look comfortable. He was slipping at the blue line, fumbling the puck and had two or three unforced turnovers.

Undoubtedly, Forsling has made positive strides in March. He could use a night off to regroup and prepare for a final stretch of games that will determine his fate with Chicago, since he will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Marcus Kruger

Kruger gets paid to kill penalties and be a responsible defensive forward. On Sunday night, he took two penalties. When every game is essentially a must-win, Kruger has to be more aware of his stick and the placement of his hands when defending an opposing player.

Chris Kunitz

Kunitz only played 5:04 minutes in the 2-1 victory over Colorado. In his last four starts, he is a minus-2 and has only averaged 6:48 minutes of ice time. John Hayden has not played since March 7 against the Buffalo Sabres. I think it is time to see if Hayden can add some more tenacity, net front presence, and physicality to Chicago’s lineup, since he has been a healthy scratch for eight straight games and is likely chomping at the bit to get back in game action.

Up Next

The Blackhawks start their three game West Coast trip against the Arizona Coyotes at 9 p.m. Tuesday at Gila River Arena in Glendale.