Today was the start of a new era for the Blackhawks. The J.F. Berube era. Okay, that was a complete overreaction, but Berube’s Blackhawks debut couldn’t have gone much better than it did today.
J.F. Berube started his Chicago career in the AHL, where he played for the Rockford IceHogs. He was ready to transition to NHL life as a backup goaltender to Anton Forsberg after Corey Crawford went out with an upper-body injury back in December. However, a lower body injury suffered against the Grand Rapid Griffins caused his call up to the NHL to be delayed for over a month. As a result, Jeff Glass was called up in his place.
Quenneville had some high praise for Berube, “I like the way he works—good attitude, deserves a chance to play. Great opportunity for him, and I like the way he approaches the game. Good teammate as well. It’s been awhile. We would have seen him earlier [due to his injury]. Now it’s time to take advantage of it.”
In the AHL with the IceHogs, Berube went 7-8 with a 2.37 goals against average and .920 save percentage. In his one-year stint with the New York Islanders, he went 3-2-2 with an abysmal 3.22 GAA and subpar .889 save percentage.
None of these stats matter if he performs well for the Blackhawks. And indeed he did. Let’s get into the game.
Despite a first period where the Blackhawks “limited” the San Jose Sharks to 15 shots, the defense really didn’t give away many high quality chances to the Sharks offense.
With 5:46 gone in the second period, Jan Rutta, in his first game back from the injured reserve, put the Blackhawks up 1-0 after collecting his own rebound and blasting a shot past Martin Jones for his sixth goal of the season.
Then, in the third period Anthony Duclair caused a turnover by the Sharks in their own defensive zone and laid a perfect backhand pass to the birthday boy himself, Nick Schmaltz, who one-timed the puck to double the Blackhawks lead.
Midway through the period, off a face off won by the Sharks, Brent Burns dropped the puck off to Timo Meier who unleashed a slap shot past J.F. Berube to put the Sharks on the board and make it a 2-1 game. With this goal, Meier ended Berube’s shutout opportunity in his Blackhawks debut. However, even though Berube didn’t record a shutout, his performance showed Hawks fans out there that they can count on him to keep games close.
Quenneville added,“Its tough to win without your goalie being good and you expect him to make certain saves… I thought he did a nice job of being on top of the paint and closing the gap on some dangerous plays.”
Personally, I’m excited for Berube’s future with Chicago. He clearly seems to understand his role on the team and will hopefully work hard for a team which is highly unlikely to make the playoffs. Today he saved 42 of 43 shots by the Sharks.
Berube on his opportunity to start today said, “It means a lot. I think I’m going to take every opportunity I have to play games. I’m not trying to do things that I’m not supposed to do. I’m just trying to go out there [and] try to help the team win.”
Previously, we reported the story where four Blackhawks fans started a racist chant against Devante Smith-Pelly. Just today, a group of 353 fans compiled $23,000 to donate to Fort Dupont Ice Arena, the charity of Smith-Pelly’s choice. I think I can say on behalf of all Blackhawks fans that we are proud of these fans who are taking action to combat racism in a positive way, and at the same time, are putting the Blackhawks fanbase in more of a positive light.