Rivalry Night was on the docket this evening with the Blackhawks seeking their 40th win on the year which would place them alone atop of the Western Conference joining only the Capitals who have 47. The Blackhawks got on the board first with a Brent Seabrook blast from the blue line that beat Red Wings Goalie Petr Mrazek. The next two goals came from Panarin and Kane on a 5-on-3 and ensuing power-play.
Detroit after falling behind 3-0 midway through the second period got a goal back from Brad Richards through a screen on the power play midway through the final frame. Chicago would get two more from the recently acquired Andrew Ladd and Calder Trophy front-runner Artemi Panarin who netted his second of the game, 24th of the season, off of a feed from Kane who had three points on the night. Kane matched his number in terms of season point totals, 17 points ahead of Dallas’ Jamie Benn.
Detroit’s a team on the cusp of the playoffs while Chicago’s on it’s way to the top of the Western Conference, and home-ice throughout the conference playoffs. Detroit’s sitting as a Wild Card team in the Eastern Conference which is firmly but for Washington inferior to the West. The Blackhawks have 85 points as a team putting them first in the conference. If Chicago maintains their standing for the final 16 games they should roll right on through to the Western Conference Finals at least. Anything less would be a letdown to the fans. After Chicago get to the conference finals, the Pacific Division over the past couple years has been the Hawks’ biggest obstacle in winning the cup. As has been dictated over the last five years, the Western Conference Finals has decided the Stanley Cup Champion.
The way the blue line’s playing for the Hawks along with the power play’s been phenomenal. Chicago’s got the second best power play in the NHL and Patrick Kane is leading the way in way of scoring both on the PP and 5-on-5 play. As written earlier, with 16 games remaining in the Hawks season there’s no reason to think Kane will slow down and miss the 100 point mark. He needs to average less than a point a game after tonight’s three point performance, and with another weak Boston Defensive Corps up tomorrow, Kane should feast on this brief two game eastern road trip.
After tonight and into the future Chicago will want to start thinking about who they’re going to play in the bottom six pairing on their defense for the rest of the season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Erik Gustafsson and Trevor Van Riemsdyk can’t be trusted in big situations right now. Christian Ehrhoff has played in the Pacific Division and he’s well known by the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. The Ducks and Kings will again be the biggest thorn in Chicago’s return to glory. Anaheim’s on a tear like no other and about to overtake the Kings for first in the Pacific after a 15-1-1 run that has gotten them back atop the division after a miserable start to the season. The Ducks have won 8 in a row and are in progress tonight against the Canadiens at home. The Ducks have an equally good blue line to the Hawks, and while it’s nothing like Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin of the Kings it is formidable.
The Hawks have no doubt the Hart and Calder, whether or not Toews gets the Selke or Keith the Norris, Chicago should find themselves into Memorial Day Weekend and beyond thrusting the city into it’s annual fury of Stanley Cup Bedlam!