Ray Emery had his best night as a member of the Blackhawks and the offense came through again as Chicago won their second game in as many days.
But, after struggling for a stretch, what has changed?
In the last two games, the Blackhawks have taken advantage of two simple realities:
1. The Blackhawks were playing inferior teams.
2. Chicago’s defensemen were aggressive on the offensive end of the ice.
The two wins have been impressive, and the Hawks have played well. But fans should not ignore the fact that Columbus and Calgary are, on paper, two of the worst teams in the NHL. The Blackhawks were supposed to hammer both teams, and did.
That’s a good start. Last year, the Hawks lost too many games they were, on paper, “supposed to win.” This year the Hawks are handling their business, and it shows in their record.
But more important has been the apparently green light given to the Hawks defensemen.
Before Thursday night in Columbus, Nick Leddy had the only two goals scored by a Chicago defenseman. In Columbus, Steve Montador got on the board (albeit in a forward position on the power play), and against Calgary both Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook scored their first goals of the year.
The wealth has been spread more than just to goals, too. Against the Blue Jackets, Chicago’s defensemen combined for seven assists. The Hawks also have 19 takeaways in the last two games, and have outshot their opponents 67-55.
Also noteworthy, Chicago has scored on three of seven power plays after scoring on one in 30 opportunities in their previous eight games.
Perhaps most importantly, the Hawks have received excellent, timely goaltending early in games. Calgary came out of the gates with good energy on Friday night, but Emery was fantastic. Indeed, how he wasn’t one of the game’s three stars is a head-scratcher.
When Edmonton comes to the United Center on Sunday night, they’ll be riding a two-game losing streak that includes a shut out at the hands of the Red Wings on Friday night.
Fun Fact: After Friday night, the Blackhawks are 5-1-1 in games John Scott plays. Crow tastes great after a win.