Heading into Thursday night, the Chicago Blackhawks had won 11 straight games over their former division rivals, the Columbus Blue Jackets. After Thursday I guess we can make it 12 straight.
It's good to know that the Hawks can still beat up on the Jackets now that they play in the East. It's also good to know the Hawks don't need Viktor Stalberg in order to do so.
After Tuesday night's loss to Colorado, coach Joel Quenneville switched up the lines. He paired Jonathan Toews with Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw and boy did it pay off. The line combined for five points. Shaw and Toews each scored two goals while Saad tallied an assist.
While the first line carried the load, the fourth line continued to pull their own weight. Brandon Bollig redirected a Marcus Kruger shot for his seventh goal of the season. It might be time to stop referring to that line as the fourth line. They have been clearly outplaying the third line as well as getting more ice time. Who ever would have thought that Kruger, Bollig and Ben Smith would be getting more ice time than the likes of Bryan Bickell and Kris Vertseeg?
I for sure didn't. For the record Bickell and Versteeg have been playing better since the Olympic break. They each have two points in the last four games, with Bickell scoring two goals. Versteeg has a goal and an assist. If they can keep up the play it will make the Hawks that much more dangerous come playoff time.
Corey Crawford rebounded after a shaky outing on Tuesday. He stopped 22 of 23 shots, winning his 24th game of the season. On the other end of the ice, Chicago chased last season's Vezina winner, Sergei Bobrovsky, out of the game. They scored four goals on 18 shots. They then scored two more goals on his backup, Curtis McElhinney.
The Hawks now have a few days off before traveling to Buffalo to play the Sabres on Sunday. It will be the first time Patrick Kane gets to play in front of his home town crowd since October of 2010.
Scoreboard Watch: St. Louis and Colorado both won on Thursday. The Blues remain two points ahead of the Hawks while still having two games in hand. The Avalanche remain one point behind the Hawks while having a game in hand. Both teams play each other on Saturday in Colorado.
After the Blues play the Stars on Tuesday night, all three teams will be all caught up on games. That will make it a 17 game sprint to the finish line for the division and playoff seeding.