Despite the fact the Blackhawks were already hovering near the top of the West, theyve moved into a tie for the lead with the idle Wild thanks to two factors that had been preventing them from playing to their full potential.
For the third straight game, they got offensive contributions from players not named Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa or Patrick Kane. And for the first time since before the Circus Trip, they set the tone early and controlled the tempo most of the way at home. After all, they trailed at some point in all four home games since returning, going 2-1-1.
Ray Emery continued looking sharp in net -- and after originally thinking Corey Crawford might get a chance for a start in one of these two weekend games -- Im starting to think Joel Quenneville keeps going with Emery Sunday against Calgary and Tuesday in Pittsburgh before Crawford gets a shot Wednesday back at the United Center versus his hometown team, Montreal.
The special teams continued rolling the 1-for-3 power play improves their marksmanship to 18-for-59 the last 17 games. Another perfect night on the penalty kill brings that unit to 25-for-27 in the nine games since beating the Ducks in Anaheim the day after Thanksgiving.
The signs are pointing up. This team remains healthy, save for the Daniel Carcillo upper-body injury that the coach says isnt serious. They took it to a vulnerable team Friday night, and will try to hit the repeat button against a team in a similar state Sunday evening.
Blackhawks forward Marcus Kruger and defenseman Ville Pokka were added to Team Sweden and Team Finland, respectively, as team rosters were completed for the World Cup of Hockey on Friday.
Christian Ehrhoff, who was traded to the Blackhawks during the season, was added to Team Europe.
Nine Blackhawks were already chosen for their respective country’s teams back in March: Corey Crawford, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith (Team Canada), Patrick Kane (USA), Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin (Russia), Teuvo Teravainen (Finland), Niklas Hjalmarsson (Sweden) and Marian Hossa (Team Europe).
Michal Kempny, a defenseman the Blackhawks signed earlier this week, was also named to Team Czech Republic in March.
The World Cup of Hockey will be held from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1 in Toronto.
It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that young hockey players are patterning their games off Patrick Kane.
But the next generation of scorers are modeling their post-goal celebrations after the Blackhawks star, too.
Check out this video of a kid in a youth hockey game mimicking Kane's celebration from this year's playoffs, when he scored the double-overtime winner in Game 5 of the Blackhawks' series against the Blues.
Not bad, kid!
Kane recognized the kid's celly game, tweeting the video out to his followers Friday afternoon.
The Blackhawks agreed to terms with goaltender Lars Johansson, defenseman Michal Kempny and forward Martin Lundberg on one-year deals on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old Kempny had 21 points (five goals, 16 assists) in 59 games with Avangard Omsk (KHL) last season. He had two assists in eight games with the Czech Republic in the IIHF World Championship.
Johansson, 28, spent the last three seasons with Frolunda HC (Swedish Hockey League). He was 56-27-0 over those three seasons. Last season, he had a league-leading 1.74 goals-against average and a 27-6-0 record.
The 25-year-old Lundberg had 13 goals and eight assists in 44 games with Skelleftea AIK (Swedish Hockey League). He also had two goals in eight games with Sweden in the World Championship.