They looked flat and didn’t wake up until too late against Montreal on Saturday. The Chicago Blackhawks weren’t making that mistake again–especially against a red-hot Maple Leafs club with the top goal scorer in the league.
“I thought it was a complete game tonight,” head coach Luke Richardson said postgame on NBC Sports Chicago. “Sixty minutes–that’s what we challenge the guys for. That’s what we needed against a team like that. Yeah it was great–a great effort.”
The effort was spread around evenly Monday night, a game where many anticipated the Connor Bedard-Auston Matthews matchup that really didn’t come to pass. Both were active in their way as expected.
But that good old hockey game is more reliant on the team game and the Blackhawks absolutely demonstrated that all night long.
Blackhawks Bounce Back Nicely
Andreas Athanasiou, on the fourth line tonight, had two assists. Kevin Korchinski picked up his career assist and point. Tyler Johnson potted another goal, his third in two games. Corey Perry finished off a beautiful tape-to-tape pass from Alex Vlasic with a go-ahead goal that would stand as the game winner.
look at this photograph pic.twitter.com/mJBgrqd3fH
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 17, 2023
How about Nikita Zaitsev, maligned after a tough preseason finale, blocking shots and clogging the passing lane. The oh-for-fourteen power play finally registered a goal.
And MacKenzie Entwistle–a healthy scratch for three games, opens the scoring for Chicago. He’s going to make Richardson think a little more about who’s playing on Thursday.
Arvid Soderblom was a brick wall in the net, standing even taller as the game was more intense down the line.
Mitch Marner, John Tavares, Auston Matthews, and William Nylander skating low and doing every little thing to chip a puck past him?
He hardly batted an eye.
Team First Playing Well For Chicago
This was the consummate team victory, where an up and down glance at the list along with even a simple eye test saw a team pushing to beat one of the NHL’s best.
Heading home on Saturday, anyone who had the Blackhawks going to Colorado with an even split of wins and losses would have taken that today, tomorrow, and next week. For a team rebuilding, who will frustrate as well as fascinate. In a season where Bedard was supposed to be the main draw, it’s general manager Kyle Davidson’s roster construction along with Richardson’s and his staff keeping the team afloat.
Oh, it’s certainly designed to keep things at a level that will help Chicago land another top tier talent to build around. It sure looked as such against Montreal.
But hockey is a funny game where one game you can’t find the back of the net. During another, a skate blade falls off and the opposition can’t even get a shot on goal during that calamity during a powerplay.
From Montreal to Toronto, it appeared like maybe it’d be some similar returns like a season prior. Instead, the bottom lines chipped in to steal a victory from the Maple Leafs.
Not a bad way to head into the final game of a five-game road trip. Imagine the reception on Saturday if they do it again on Thursday.