Blackhawks Finding Rhythm Up Front as Marty Turco Eliminates Doubt


That’s how many shots Marty Turco faced between Friday night in Columbus and Saturday night against Buffalo at home. After leaving the defensively deficient Dallas Stars to join a Blackhawks defense that allowed the fewest shots on net in the NHL last year, certainly he didn’t expect to be fighting off 19-shot opening periods at home.

To Turco’s credit, he has answered the bell. Only five of those 73 shots have slipped past him (.932 save percentage) this weekend and the Blackhawks have won back-to-back games to begin a touch stretch on the calendar.

The Hawks are allowing 33.7 shots per game, an increase of over 30 percent from a year ago. A lot of that can be blamed on a number of significant factors, including Brian Campbell’s injury, Niklas Hjalmarsson’s suspension and the minutes being piled up by 19-year-old rookie Nick Leddy. But the reality is that the Hawks have been sloppy at times this year, and the first 45 minutes of Saturday night’s game was as bad as they’ve been in a while.

However, if the blue line is struggling to support Turco, the forwards are doing more than their share to help.

Patrick Sharp scored two more goals on Saturday night, matching his performance from Friday and giving him five for the season. Marian Hossa also scored his fifth goal of the season in the game, while both Brent Seabrook and Patrick Kane added two assists each. The Blackhawks have received major contributions from all over their front lines, and Saturday was no different as Dave Bolland finally scored his first goal of the season.

Bolland had been struggling early in the year at the dot, having won only 41.5 percent of his faceoffs entering Saturday night’s action. He improved that aspect of his game against the Sabres as well, winning 13 of 19 faceoffs in the game while notching his first tally on the young campaign.

Despite not factoring into the scoring, Troy Brouwer had a major impact on the game Saturday. Joel Quenneville mixed up his lines to begin the third period with the Hawks trailing 3-2, and opened the period with a line that was money for him throughout last year: Brouwer, Kane and Jonathan Toews. Brouwer was only credited with one shot on net, but saw his ice time increase to nearly 15 minutes in the game because he played a controlled, physical game. He was credited with 11 hits in the game in just 17 shifts.

If ice team means anything, then Nick Boynton is earning a spot on the roster after Campbell returns. He skated 19:40 in the game, the third-highest total for a Hawks defenseman, and blocked four more shots on the night and was credited with one hit. Only Keith blocked more shots (five). On the other hand, John Scott skated the fewest shifts (seven) and the lowest ice time (6:07) in the game.

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