Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville adjusted his team’s defensive pairings heading into Game 5, yet his biggest tweak might have come from combining Patrick Kane, Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad. That trio made an enormous impact in Chicago’s 4-3 double-overtime win against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday.
After only generating a single assist in his first four games fighting through a Kings defense that Quenneville acknowledged as stout, Kane collected four assists on Wednesday. The 25-year-old finished with a +3 rating, five shots on goal and 28:34 minutes of ice time in Game 5. He now has five assists in his last two games.
Shaw mixed a physical edge (eight recorded hits) with some offensive touch in producing two assists and three shots on goal.
While Kane’s reemergence might be the most important sign for a Blackhawks team that was desperate to get back into this series, Saad’s Game 5 was arguably a bigger revelation. He nabbed the primary assist on Michal Handzus’ game-winner and finished with three points overall, yet it’s the overall view that indicates that he made a big impact. He fired seven shots on goal, delivered three hits and finished +4 on the night.
Kane seems to agree that Saad stood out:
Kane: "I thought [Brandon Saad] was the best player on the ice tonight." #Blackhawks
On paper, the Edmonton Oilers vs. Dallas Stars stands as a must-watch affair, at least if you can look past shaky defense.
(Heck, for some, looser defense only makes it a better watch.)
Having Taylor Hall in the mix for Edmonton makes a difference in that regard, especially as Connor McDavid continues to strive for his first career NHL goal. After some suspense, it appears that Hall will, indeed, be able to go on Tuesday.
This happy occasion makes it OK to share this awkward photo of Hall, then, right?
GM says Blue Jackets are ‘off the rails’ right now
Apparently Blue Jackets management is a little shaken by the second 0-3-0 start in franchise history, however.
Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen shared his shock and dismay with the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline on Tuesday.
“I’m surprised how, in just five days, we’ve gone from a very confident group to something that’s the opposite of that,” Kekalainen told The Dispatch on Tuesday. “Our confidence, our game … it’s off the rails right now.
Maybe losing to the Buffalo Sabres stings a little bit extra?
Kekalainen said “there’s no excuse for how we played in Buffalo,” pointing out that every team in the NHL is a “good team.”
Indeed, just about every squad boasts some dangerous weapons if they catch an opponent sleeping.
Portzline goes deeper on Columbus’ recent history of stumbling out of the gate, but consider the foreboding stretch coming up.
Next four games: Three out of four at home Eight games following that: Seven out of eight on the road.
As you can see, winter is coming for Columbus, so they best get things together. All things considered, this is the right time for a wake-up call.
For bonus chuckles, here’s a photo of Kekalainen on a railing.