Chicago Blackhawks: What to Take from Solid Opening Weekend
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The Chicago Blackhawks have come out of the gate in strong fashion following a pair of impressive road wins. Weekend victories in Los Angeles and Phoenix amp up an already-exciting home opener Tuesday night.
There is a lot to like about the 'Hawks 2-0 start, but there are also some areas of concern. Let's focus on the positives first.
Marian Hossa seems intent on showing us all that he's just fine, thank you
Hossa posted two-goal efforts in the two wins and showed no ill effects from the devastating hit that ended his season last April.
The captain seems all right
Jonathan Toews was kept off the scoreboard in Sunday night's 6-4 win over the Coyotes, but won 58 percent of his draws to go with a 16-for-25 performance from the dot in Saturday's 5-2 win. Toews also had a goal and an assist against the defending champs and was a plus-five for the weekend.
Dave Bolland is fitting into the second line
Playing alongside Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp, Bolland had a big game Sunday. The Rat tallied Chicago's fist and last goals and set up Sharp in the second period.
The defensive pairings suggest more balance
The second pairing of Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson was a combined plus-seven for the weekend. The duo picked up an assist apiece and equaled the minutes of the top pairing of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.
Hjalmarsson seems less rattled with the puck as he and Oduya have played well. Former Coyote Michal Rozsival played 16 minutes Sunday and added two helpers, including a nice give-and-go with Hossa that gave Chicago the lead late in the second period.
Of course, it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. Here's some issues from the first weekend.
Daniel Carcillo will be missing significant time
Like him or hate him, Carbomb played pretty well until getting injured Saturday. He assisted on Hossa's first goal and was a plus-three for the afternoon.
Brandon Saad skated in his place Sunday and is a more skilled player, but Carcillo may be missed while his lower body issue heals.
Ray Emery left a lot of pucks around the net
To be fair, Corey Crawford wasn't pressured much, Saturday. However, Emery's rebound control left a lot to be desired when coach Joel Quenneville gave him the crease the next day.
Of course, a lot of top goalies had trouble over the weekend, so let's wait a week or two before we begin fretting too much about the play in goal.
The weekend wasn't perfect, though it was great to have NHL games to discuss, and it's hard to be disappointed about a 2-0 start. Next up is the hoopla of the home opener with a tough opponent in the St. Louis Blues.
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