***Author’s note: I’m going to try to do more quick little recap blogs during the season. Barstool is a tremendous platform and I’m going to use it a little bit more. Also, a lot of people have asked for more coverage so I’m going to do my best to provide it. As always, if you think its too much you can choose not to click. Having said that…I prefer that you click.
Last night belonged to the Cubs and Mitchell Trubisky, so I feel like not too many people had their attention on the Blackhawks. Here’s a quick recap to get you caught up.
Never good to blow a 3-1 third period lead, but “puck don’t lie”. The Blackhawks got thoroughly out-played the last two periods and probably didn’t deserve to take two points in Toronto. In a weird way it was nice to see the Blackhawks actually have to play a competitive game and be tested after steam-rolling Pittsburgh and Colombus to start the season. Here are five kind of rapid fire reactions to the game last night.
1) Nick Schmaltz: Actually Important
I think everyone kind of knows this, but it was so obvious last night. The Blackhawks are a COMPLETELY different team without Schmaltz in the lineup. Which is too bad because he has yet to play a full game this season. Last night the Hawks bumped Anisimov back into his 2nd line center role next to Kane it was a disaster. That group was chasing the puck all night and were hemmed in. Schmaltz brings so much to the table. Obviously he creates with his speed, but he helps the team hold on to the puck because he’s so skilled and that allows the Hawks to take pressure off of their D. Also…Anisimov looks slow to me. He’s never been a burner, but he hasn’t looked quick since his injury late last season and I’m starting to get worried that his contract will drift into Bickell territory.
2) The Toronto Maple Leafs Are Really Good
Obvioulsy Auston Matthews gets a ton of attention, and rightfully so, the guy is a super star. I don’t think I appreciated how deep and balanced that forward group was until last night. Zach Hyman is a terror on the forecheck. Relentless energy. He plays a simple game….just be a dog on pucks, get it back to Matthews and Nylander, go to the net. Then their next two lines of JVR-Bozak-Marner and Marleau-Kadri-Komorov can both skate, check, and score. I thought the Marleau signing was a little bit strange but he gives them an added layer of offensive depth and a veteran voice in the room. Their fourth line is a classic fourth with energy and physicality. I think they’re a contender in the East right now. And the game winning goal from Matthews shown above was a exactly what you’d expect a super star to do. The Leafs have never really been great for my entire life. It’s cool to see them being the talk of the league.
3) Anton Forsberg Looks Like He Can Do The Job
The Blackhawks have been blessed with great backup goaltending for the last several years going all the back to Ray Emery. Raanta and Darling are now both #1s in other places. There were some question marks about Forsberg given his poor(but small) NHL resume. Looks like a good athlete who stays pretty square and challenges shooters. Really good performance last night. Biggest reason why the Hawks got a point.
4) The “Thiccc Boyz” Are Even Better Than We Hoped
Other than Forsberg, the biggest bright spot for the Blackhawks last night was the Saad-Toews-Panik line. Saad is a god damn animal. He’s a better player now than when he left. He just creates so many problems with his speed and strength. That penalty he drew from Rosen being a perfect example. The Thiccc Boyz can forecheck with the best of them and they’re only going to be more effective as they get more game familiarity. Toews starting the year with 2 goals in his first 3 games has to be great for his overall confidence after a disappointing 2016-17 and a summer of people not putting respect on his name.
5) I’m Dying For A DeBrincat Goal
There’s going to be some growing pains for DeBrincat this year. Last night had some of those moments, like being too cute with the puck as the last man back at his own blue-line. He shows some flashes though and really has an understanding of how to play. He sprung Patrick Sharp for a break-away, he popped right back to his feet after getting leveled in the corner and drawing a penalty, and he darted to the slot and got a shot on goal. I can smell a goal coming of him. He’s doing enough good things that I think he’s going to earn that first NHL goal tonight in Montreal. It’s coming.