When the final horn sounded on Saturday night, the Chicago Blackhawks were ready to board a plane headed for Chicago.
The annual Circus Trip is over.
At the end of the trip, the Blackhawks emerge with a 4-2 record and eight points in the six games. There were a lot of questions when the trip started, and despite some of those questions being answered even more have been raised. However, if the performances from the Hawks on Friday afternoon and Saturday night showed us anything, it’s that the chemistry that the team was lacking may have been found on the road.
The biggest, and most pleasant surprise of the trip was the play of Corey Crawford. The young Blackhawks netminder won all three of his starts on the trip, and allowed only three goals against 77 shots – a ridiculous .961 save percentage! In his last five starts, Crawford is 4-1 and has allowed only seven goals against 129 shots (an incredible .946 save percentage).
Other trends that were encouraging from the trip included a noticeably increased amount of physical play, especially in the final two games. As you will see in the stat summary of the trip below, Bryan Bickell led the team with 12 hits in the six games, while Troy Brouwer added 11 hits. The Blackhawks also picked up their pressure on the puck before it got to the crease, and blocked a big number of shots on the trip. Duncan Keith was credited with a team-leading 15 blocked shots in the six games.
Overall, the Blackhawks have a lot of positives to take away from the trip. The team won games at Edmonton, Vancouver, Anaheim and Los Angeles. The Hawks also played fairly well in San Jose despite the outcome. Patrick Sharp led the team with eight points and five goals in six games, but five Hawks players had at least five points on the trip. Brian Campbell led the team with a plus-nine rating.
Outside of the obvious superstars, perhaps the most valuable player on the Circus Trip was Jake Dowell. He posted strong numbers across the board, played smart, strong, physical hockey and won critical faceoffs throughout the trip.
The Blackhawks now get a much-needed light week, hosting four games in the next 11 days. They welcome the St. Louis Blues to the United Center on Tuesday night.
Here are the stats for the road trip:
- Patrick Sharp: 5 G, 3 A, 8 pts, +5, 2 hits
- Patrick Kane: 2 G, 5 A, 7 pts, +3, 1 hit
- Jonathan Toews: 4 G, 1 A, 5 pts, +3, 4 hits
- Marian Hossa: 5 A, 5 pts, +4, 4 hits
- Jack Skille: 1 G, 4 A, 5 pts, +5, 6 hits
- Troy Brouwer: 3 G, 1 A, 4 pts, +1, 11 hits
- Jake Dowell: 1 G, 3 A, 4 pts, +6, 9 hits
- Bryan Bickell: 1 G, 2 A, 3 pts, +1, 12 hits
- Dave Bolland: 2 A, 2 pts, +3, 5 hits
- Tomas Kopecky: 2 A, 2 pts, +1, 4 hits
- Fernando Pisani: 2 G, 1 A, 3 pts, E, 6 hits
- John Scott: 2 hits, 1 fight victory
- Viktor Stalberg: 0 pts, E, 9 hits
- Duncan Keith: 1 G, 1 A, 2 pts, 15 blocked shots, +2, 3 hits
- Brent Seabrook: 1 G, 1 A, 2 pts, 9 blocked shots, +2, 10 hits
- Brian Campbell: 1 A, 1 pt, 6 blocked shots, +9, 4 hits
- Niklas Hjalmarsson: 1 G, 1 A, 2 pts, 9 blocked shots,+5, 5 hits
- Jassen Cullimore: 7 blocked shots, +4, 4 hits
- Nick Boynton: 2 A, 2 pts, 10 blocked shots, +2, 2 hits