Well that was fun! After much hand wringing and worrying and gnashing of teeth, Quenneville got out the Yahtzee cup, shook it and dumped a bunch of lines out on the ice in Montreal. Prior to this game, the Blackhawks shooting percentage had been left to rot in a dumpster behind the United Center and the fan base was on the verge of inventing new technology to measure shot quality just to win fights on the internet.
It’s amazing what a 5-0 win can do for the old confidence.
- Wonder Twins Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Quenneville reunited Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on a line to start the game with Captain America, Ben Smith filling out the line. Because of all the penalties during the game, Smith shared some shifts with Kris Versteeg, but really the third member of that line was not the focus. Toews scored on the Power Play, notching his 200th NHL goal in the process. As terrific as that was the team’s offensive explosion at 5 on 5 was really what they needed. Versteeg had two goals. No really, he did. Brad Richards scored a goal. The Toews to Kane goal was pretty much just them saying “Wonder Twin Powers Activate! Form of an even strength goal!”
- Hawkeye Corey Crawford. Did you know he’s from Montreal? Did you know that’s his hometown? Oh, you did? Oh. Crawford got a well deserved shutout. The last two minutes of the third period was like gnawing on broken glass because everyone knows they always give up a goal and lose the shutout within 2 minutes of the game. Miraculously, they held it together and Crawford got to impress his mom and other family in attendance with a big flashy win. He looked very solid in the net despite some traffic, which is really his strongest quality as a goalie. He also faced a high number of perimeter shots, often with bodies obscuring his view, and stopped them all. Those perimeter shots are Crawford’s Kryptonite so it was nice to see him unaffected by it on the night.
- Mr. Fantastic Patrick Sharp. He plays 5 on 5, he plays on the Power Play. He’s going to be sitting at home for a while. Sharp got hit by Emelin along the boards in the third period and couldn’t get up without help. All the eyeballs on the hit seem to agree that it looked like a right knee injury for the shooter. After the game, Quenneville said he’ll be out “for a bit” and later clarified that it would be weeks, not days, before Sharp is back. This is a big loss. I know we all tried to tell ourselves that the team could live without him this summer because we thought he might get traded, but he’s important. He currently has a 60.3% CF% at 5v5 with a ridiculously high 73.36 CF60 (Corsi For Per 60 or shot attempt rate). That’s the second highest CF60 in the league, so missing him for a while will definitely require some adjustment.
- The Power Play had a few different looks tonight in terms of formation and the ones they don’t often used looked pretty good. Who knows if that was on purpose or just something they improvised because of Montreal’s coverage, but here’s hoping they keep putting some different schemes and units on the ice. We’re guaranteed to see some different units with Sharp out so maybe it will happen.
4 EVEN STRENGTH GOALS, A POWER PLAY GOAL, 5-0 WIN, SHUTOUT BABY