The Chicago Blackhawks are, at this point in time, the greatest offense in the entire NHL. They currently sit at the top of the league with 64 points scored so far on the season. While all of this is good and well, the Blackhawks have been suffering as far as their defense has been concerned.
However, Friday night, the Blackhawks took on the New Jersey Devils and it seemed that their was a wind of defensive change.
Antti Raanta spent the night in between the posts to give the returned Corey Crawford a night off. Raanta proved to make some incredible saves throughout the night, which should give coach Joel Queenville a little room to breath and allow Crawford a few nights off here and there.
While Raanta is an incredible defensive force out on the ice, and has helped to both propel and keep the Hawks at the top of the Western Conference, he is just one man and defense is not a one man job.
Friday night’s game was off to a slow start but once each team found some momentum there was a lot going on. The more important aspect of this game was the Hawks ability to shoulder some great defense out on the ice. The puck spent a lot of time in Chicago’s own zone and to what I am sure must be the delight of coach Q, the Hawks made an impressive defensive effort.
It wasn’t until the third period when things really started to take off for the Hawks, scoring three goals almost immediately. The Hawks were also able to hang on to the puck more, and get it out of their zone much quicker. This was impressive because the Devils have the ability to skate fast and tie up the sticks of the Blackhawks both offensively and defensively, which limited their scoring opportunities.
Chicago’s ability to get out on the ice in the third period and make the necessary changes out on the ice was key to their scoring. Once the Hawks find their momentum and start scoring, it can be hard to topple it. While Patrick Sharp’s second hat trick this season contributed to the 5-3 win, the defensive effort made by the Hawks was essential to their overall victory over the Devils.