1. Chicago’s second period was encouraging.
In the middle frame, the Blackhawks dominated puck possession with a 29 to 12 shot attempt advantage at 5-on-5 and a 65.8-percent expected goal for rate. Line after line seemed to have extended offensive zone shifts and if it wasn’t for a few blocks and quality saves by John Gibson, Chicago could have been up by three or four goals going into the third period.
The second period has often doomed the Blackhawks this season as they’ve given up 45 goals and 573 shots, while only scoring 31 goals and taking 462 shots, per Hockey-Reference. Saturday’s effort in the second period was a recipe for success and hopefully one they can repeat going forward.
2. Dominik Kubalik deserves to be in the Calder Trophy discussion.
After Kubalik’s two goal effort, which nearly turned into his first career hat trick, he is now tied at 16 goals with Buffalo’s Victor Olofsson for the lead in rookie goal scoring. What’s even more impressive about Kubalik’s rookie season is that 14-of-16 goals have come at even strength.
Kubalik is on pace for 29 goals and at the rate that he shoots (2.16 shots-per-game) and hangs around the slot and crease in the offensive zone, he can certainly push for a 25-goal campaign. That would lead to a hefty, but well-deserved raise, as Kubalik will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
A current contract comparable could be Andreas Johnson in Toronto who buried 20 goals and collected 43 points last season in the final year of his entry level deal. Johnson signed a four-year, $13.6 million deal, which has an annual cap hit of $3.4 million.
3. Robin Lehner was a beast!
Lehner had another exceptional start for the Blackhawks. He stopped 35-of-37 shots, which included 15 high-danger saves like this one in the third period:
Or this nice goal saving poke check on Daniel Sprong as he tried to cut to his backhand on a 2-on-1 midway through the second period:
Lehner is now ranked No. 5 in the NHL with a 13.5 expected goals saved above average and is tied for No. 12 with a .923 save-percentage.
Not only is Lehner showing that he should be regarded as in elite netminder, but his blunt honesty, hockey IQ and work ethic provides even more reason for general manager Stan Bowman to extend Lehner.