Well….well….well. Let’s put Tuesday night’s big games in some perspective. Washington starts fast and puts the Minnesota Wild into a big 2-0 hole. Chicago jumps out to a 1-0 lead but late in first period Artem Anisimov has to be helped from the ice. Back to the Nation’s Capital where Washington goes up 3-0. And then the Wild push back and cut the lead to 3-2. Returning to Montreal, the Blackhawks go up 3-0 early in the third. Washington goes final when they get a late goal from Jay Beagle and wins 4-2. And up North again, Montreal cuts the Chicago lead to 3-2….but the Hawks hang on when Jonathan Toews (18) scores an open netter for the same 4-2 margin.
Now let’s do some tabulation. Washington continues to lead the National Hockey League in points with 97. Metropolitan Division foe Pittsburgh trails with 95. In the West, Chicago now takes over first place by one point over the Wild 93-92 in the Central Division (Minnesota has one game in hand). The Wild are now 4-6 in their last ten. The Hawks are 8-2.
The four squads mentioned above might be the cream of the crop in the NHL. Although the Columbus Blue Jackets might have room to nudge in there. Maybe the New York Rangers, maybe. And also San Jose. Of these heavyweights San Jose, Pittsburgh and Columbus are all 7-2-1 in the last ten. Washington and New York 5-5. So…there is some tightening of the races for sure in both the East and West.
Let’s get back to Minnesota and Chicago. I’m not sure what to make of the Wild’s losses of late. Head coach Bruce Boudreau probably feels the same way. But he’s been down this road before. He never won the Stanley Cup in 5 seasons in Washington. He won four straight division titles while coaching the Anaheim Ducks and still got fired. It’s too early to say history will repeat itself but….
The Hawks on the other hand are trending at the right time. One of the biggest things that could derail them would be a serious injury. And that might have happened Tuesday night to Anisimov. He couldn’t put any pressure on his left leg and had to be carried from the ice after Alexander Radulov fell into his leg. Anisimov was down for several moments, grabbing around his left knee before trainers had to help him off through the Zamboni tunnel. His injury would be a huge loss for the Hawks if he is to miss any significant length of time. UPDATE: Head Coach Joel Quenneville said after the game that Anisimov is day-to-day and his injury is not serious. Expect to see John Hayden get his NHL debut against Ottawa.
The takeaways: The Hawks regain first place. Patrick Kane is now tied with Connor McDavid for the scoring lead with 76 points by tallying three points (1G. 2A). Johnny Oduya (2) records his first goal of the year for the Hawks and Artemi Panarin rocketed another goal (23) less than a minute into the third. Toews open netter put him in sole possession of 7th place on the all-time Chicago goal list with 269. He trails teammate Kane who has 282. The list (one through five) shows Bobby Hull (604), Stan Mikita (541), Steve Larmer (406), Denis Savard (377) and Dennis Hull (298). And let’s not forget Corey Crawford. He records his second straight 40 plus save night.
Thursday night the second of three straight on the road. Ottawa is the opponent. Should the Senators win they take over first place from Montreal in the Atlantic Division. Over the years Chicago has not matched up very well against Ottawa. Should be a tough, rugged game.
Thanks for checking in,