Without Corey Crawford, the Chicago Blackhawks have been bad, very bad. Saturday afternoon against the Boston Bruins was no different. Through two periods for the Hawks, it was actually a good game. Things fell apart in the third period (tell me where you’ve heard that before).
Despite the 7-4 loss, there were some positive takeaways from this one. Here are five things from Saturday’s contest.
1. Hayden and Highmore
John Hayden was called up for today’s game in place of Vinnie Hinostroza, who had a family emergency. Most people, including myself, believe Hayden should have been with the Hawks for the majority of the season. He still has some things to work on, but he has a lot of talent. That was evident on Saturday. He ripped a wrist shot past Tuukka Rask on a two on one. I fully expect Hayden to play in the NHL for all of next season. He’s versatile, which is something the Hawks like in their players.
As for Matthew Highmore, he scored his first career NHL goal against the Bruins. He seems to be a solid third to fourth line forward. He will get the rest of the season to show what he can do. It was nice to see him get his first goal and hopefully, some pressure is off him now.
General manager Stan Bowman did overpay for Erik Gustafsson on his recent contract extension. On Saturday, he showed us why he has the talent to live up to that money. After two periods, Gustafsson had a goal and two assists. For a defenseman, he has a lot of talent on offense. The problem is he needs to be paired with a reliable player, which the Hawks really don’t have right now. That brings us to our next thing.
3. Duncan Keith–Not Good
That headline may be a little too harsh, but it’s true given that Duncan Keith was in the discussion to win a Norris Trophy every season since 2010. He has been downright this season, especially with turning over the puck. That is strange considering he never had issues with turnovers in the past. I have faith Keith can bounce back next season. With that being said, the days of him being a Norris guy may be over.
4. Non-Existent Penalty Kill
The Bruins scored four, yes four power-play goals on Saturday. Usually, with a bad defense comes a bad penalty kill. That is exactly what’s going on with the Hawks. This offseason, it’s time for the Hawks to reconsider what they do on special teams. Both the powerplay and penalty kill have been mediocre this season. Coaching changes may not be enough either–I’m talking about philosophical changes.
5. Anthony Duclair Hit
Anthony Duclair had to be helped off the ice after injuring his right leg on a hit by Bruins forward Brad Marchand. It seemed more like a hit than a collision. Some are calling it a dirty hit by Marchand, but I think it was a case of two players being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Duclair did not return to the game and we should find out more about his condition soon.
For reference, here’s the Marchand-Duclair incident at real speed pic.twitter.com/AhbSDUFAgk
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) March 10, 2018