It was fun-filled Saturday for Chicago sports. The Blackhawks traveled to Columbus and beat the Blue Jackets 4-1 behind Core Crawford stopping 37 shots. He looks like the old Crawford and in just his second game back, there appears to be no rust. Patrick Kane scored twice and Alex DeBrincat extended his point streak to seven games with a goal in the first period.
Let’s dive into the games and talk about the good and the bad from Saturday night.
Corey Crawford looks fantastic, and he should be ready for a full workload soon. Joel Quenneville said he will only play Saturday or Sunday so they are taking it slow. But you have to like what you saw last night. 37 saves in just his second game back is huge after being off the ice for so long.
The narrative this offseason was that the Blackhawks success relied on Crawford’s health. The defense is not great and the forwards are solid, but we saw what happened last season when Crawford went down. After a great start, it was all downhill from there as the Blackhawks missed the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. So if they wanted any hope of going back to the playoffs, Crawford had to be 100%. And boy did he look like it Saturday night.
There is no better nickname for Patrick Kane than Showtime because he is always there in the biggest moments. Late in the third period, Kane put the game away with two goals. Now with seven goals on the season, Kane continues to lead the charge for the Blackhawks.
Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Alex DeBrincat have been doing it all. And that is a good thing and a bad thing. The Blackhawks need more production from guys like Nick Schmaltz and their bottom six as a whole. Alexandre Fortin, Dominik Kahun, and John Hayden have shown flashes, but everyone has to start contributing. Could Dylan Sikura be coming up soon? He gives you instant offense. I think the lineup stays consistent for now but we could see changes soon.
I don’t think anyone knows where Brandon Saad is and don’t put it past Quenneville to sit him one night. He needs to start playing with an edge or he will be watching the game from the press box.
Saad, just two assists through seven games, has been disappointing since his return to Chicago. The Blackhawks have done everything to try and get him going and nothing is working. He’s earning over $6 million a year and he’s got to start playing like it or fans will want him sitting. There is so much potential and scoring ability yet it’s locked away right now. Who has the key for Saad? You cannot put him back on the top line because he has not earned it. He was on the fourth line the other night and that did not wake him up. It’s a mystery and it has to be solved soon.
Line Change: Brandon Daivdson was in for Daniel Manning Saturday night and saw 15:50 TOI and was credited with two blocked shots. I think we see him again Sunday night vs. Tampa Bay
Prospect Update: The Blackhawks 2018 lottery pick defenseman Adam Boqvist has eight assists through nine games for the London Knights for the OHL. Boqvist shined in camp and the preseason but the decision to send him to the OHL was the right move. He can play every night and continued his development. Nicolas Beaudin has one goal and eight assists himself in nine games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs in the QMJHL. Also, the Blackhawks signed MacKenzie Entwistle to a three-year entry-level contract. The 2017 third round pick has eight goals and 12 assists through 12 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs in the OHL. Lastly, Dylan Sikura has four goals in six games for the Rockford IceHogs and you have to think he gets called up soon.