<
>

Rewind: Observations from Hawks-Jets

Here are four observations from the Chicago Blackhawks' 6-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.

1. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford has claimed not to be overworked in recent weeks, but his play has indicated otherwise. He’s now played in 13 consecutive games. He was supposed to have a game off twice during that span, but he had to relieve Nikolai Khabibulin. Crawford’s decline has been especially apparent in the last six games. During that span, he’s allowed three or more goals in five games. By comparison, he had allowed two or less goals in five of his previous six games. He’s gone from having a 2.09 goals-against average and .923 save percentage on Nov. 9 to having a 2.57 goals-against average and .904 save percentage after Thursday’s game. His goals-against average ranks 24th in the league and his save percentage is 33rd. He’s also among the bottom half in even-strength save percentage at .921 and shorthanded save percentage at .800.

2. Marian Hossa's presence means as much to the Blackhawks defensively as it does offensively. He chipped in with a goal and an assist in his return Thursday, but his defense was just as important. His ability to take pucks off opponents and tangle up sticks before someone can get a shot off is at another level. He had a game-high three takeaways Thursday. Despite missing the previous three games, he still ranks second in the league with 33 takeaways. The Detroit Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk leads the league with 40, and the Carolina Hurricanes' Andrej Sekara is third with 27.

3. The Blackhawks were fortunate not more of their giveaways turned into Jets goals. The Blackhawks had 11 giveaways Thursday. They had been averaging 6.8 giveaways in their first 22 games. Crawford's aggressiveness broke up two quality scoring chances by the Jets off Blackhawks giveaways. A giveaway by Nick Leddy in the neutral zone set up the Jets’ first goal. And a giveaway by Johnny Oduya in the neutral zone led to him picking up a penalty and eventually created a Jets power-play goal. Oduya had a team-high three giveaways.

4. It’s hard to believe the Blackhawks’ offense can keep this up, but they have been pouring in goals of late. The Blackhawks have already had 10 games this season of five or more goals. Last season, they accomplished that feat 12 times. The Blackhawks currently lead the league with 3.56 goals-per-game average. They averaged 3.10 goals a game last season.