Two games. Two different hat tricks by the two biggest stars of the team. What more could you ask for? Tuesday night Captain Jonathan Toews notched 3 goals in a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild. Thursday night, the 2016 Art Ross Trophy winner, Patrick Kane, recorded the other in a 6-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes. For Kane, it was the third regular season hat trick of his career…and don’t look now, but Kaner is on a fast track up the scoring list. He’s now tied for fourth with Nicklas Backstrom of Washington in total points with 63.
The Coyote game was…how, should I say? Boring, ugly….a trap game. Or all of the aforementioned? Probably the latter. The positives? Nick Schmaltz, the 21-year-old birthday boy, got his sixth goal of the season 37 seconds into the contest. He continues to get better with each game. The chemistry of the Toews-Schmaltz and Richard Panik line has been outstanding which has taken pressure off the PAK line. Would a rumored trade disrupt this nugget or add depth? Not sure. For now, Hawk fans are sensing an outfit ready to make a deep playoff run. The other positive…Michak Rozival notched his first goal of the season. While that might not seem like much, knowing Rozy is there to play under any situation at any time is a security blanket for the coaching staff. The not so good….Coach Joel Quenneville went with 11 forwards and 7 defensemen in the game Thursday night. Considering Chicago lost Niklas Hjmarlsson 5 shifts into the game, Coach Q must have had some indication there might be problems. The loss of the league leader in blocks with 156 for any length of time would be difficult. It didn’t appear the Hawks defenseman was hurt on any specific play. An MRI is scheduled for today. D-man Brian Campbell also had a struggle game. For the second time in as many games against the Coyotes, Campbell airmailed the puck into the stands for a delay of game penalty. That coupled with a high sticking penalty in the second period punctuated his shortcomings. Then throw in an equally bad game from Richard Panik who had a four-minute high sticking call and some questionable passing problems. Lastly, Corey Crawford still is showing a real inconsistency in net. Chicago jumped out 3-1 early in the contest only to have the Coyotes tie the score with two goals in 37 seconds…..something to work on for Sunday night’s game against the St. Louis Blues.
The win cut the Minnesota Wild lead to 3 points in the division. It will be interesting to see how Minnesota reacts to coming off their mandatory rest period. The team coming off the down time has not faired well. Could be a mad dash to the finish line in the regular season. One game at a time. One goal.
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Notes: The Hawks have scored five or more goals, six times in the last 8 games….35–Combined points for the Blackhawks’ top liners Jonathan Toews, Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik in their nine games together. The breakdown in those nine games: Toews has 16 points, Panik 10 and Schmaltz nine….1997 – The last time the Blackhawks had hat tricks in back-to-back regular-season games. Alexei Zhamnov and Eric Daze had them on April 11 and April 13, 1997, respectively