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The Blackhawks have been reeling for a few weeks and we haven’t seen their best hockey since before Christmas. One of the prevailing excuses for why that is has been that this is the mid-season doldrums. Maybe the Hawks have been bored. They know they’re almost guaranteed a playoff spot if they play mediocre hockey until the end of the season. But something about that seemed like too easy of an out for a team that’s struggled to score goals lately.

Today, we had ample opportunity for some evidence for that theory. A rivalry matinee game with a STL team that has been pummeling opponents lately, all coming after an OT win on Friday night. How would the Blackhawks play?

Well, they played well enough to beat the Blues on the road. A disgusting one-timer from Brandon Saad to Marian Hossa in the third period put the Hawks in the lead for good after blowing two leads throughout the game.

At moments, they looked like a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. At others, they looked like the pedestrian team that gets manhandled by Minnesota. The good news is that those moments were fleeting and the mistakes the Hawks made were mostly because the Blues are a damn good team. They force their opponents to make mistakes and Chicago showed enough resilience and effort to overcome them.

We’re podcasting later, so let’s get a quick breakdown…

  • Hossa had two goals, but that line of Saad-Toews-Hossa was, for the most part, a hindrance to the Blackhawks today. They struggled defensively and were, aside from the goals and a Toews chance, pretty invisible offensively. I know it’s tough to nitpick because they came through when it counts, I guess. But in all honesty, they have to be better when matching up against St. Louis.
  • Corey Crawford was outstanding. He stopped 25 of 27 and none bigger than a point blank save on Alexander Steen in the slot area.
  • Patrick Kane took the lead in the NHL points race today. Damn is he good.
  • Vladimir Tarasenko is the best player in the Central Division. His goal against Crawford was incredible.
  • Fuck Ryan Reaves. That was a really dirty play on Teuvo Teravainen in the first period and he paid the price.
  • Michal Roszival was a disaster again, yet somehow he plays 18 minutes while David Rundblad plays 9. Rundblad was absolutely fine and there was even a point in the first period where he stole the puck from Tarasenko. This is infuriating.
  • Let’s talk about Daniel Carcillo for just a second. His 10 minutes of ice time was effective. He was a participant in the game, having an effective forecheck and contributing defensively. If he’s the 12th or 13 forward from here on out, it’s really tough to complain about those kinds of games. He was significantly more noticeable than Joakim Nordstrom ever is. An example would be on Marcus Kruger’s goal to start the game. Carcillo, whether you believe it or not, is a threat offensively. He’s a guy with some ability and when theres a 2 on 1 situation, he is a guy that opponents will keep an eye on. Nordstrom is not. So when the Blues cheated over on him a bit, Kruger buried. That’s a way a fourth liner affects a hockey game. It was nice and refreshing to see.
  • Speaking of that guy, he sort of fought Steve Ott. Ott had a borderline hit on Kruger, a bit late, and Carcillo dropped the mitts with him. If you noticed Ott undo his helmet and try and get Carcillo to do the same, you’ve got your reason for why the linesmen got in there early. They’re directed to intervene when players remove their own helmets. If you hate Steve Ott like I do, you’re well within your right to think that he wasn’t interested in fighting Carcillo anymore by purposely undoing his helmet strap when they gained separation.
  • I’m just not sold on Brian Elliott being a Stanley Cup winning goalie. Honestly. He’s not impressive and today when St. Louis needed a big stop on a one-timer, he shriveled.
  • Bryan Bickell looked like a 4 million dollar hockey player today. Engaged physically, defensively, and offensively. More of that please.
  • Teuvo was not great today. A few turnovers, but respectable defensive play is fine. I’d like to see him on the scoresheet more. He’s getting 12 minutes a night, which isn’t a ton, but enough to start denting the pages.

Podcast is coming tomorrow morning, we’ll talk about this more. Stay tuned.