All the games the Chicago Blackhawks have won by the slimmest of margins could easily be used against them.
But Artem Anisimov sees it differently. Chicago’s 17 one-goal victories, by far the most in the NHL, is good practice for the playoffs, when tight games become the norm.
“It’s easy to win the games when you’re up three goals early,” Anisimov said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “But tight games keep you in shape. This team knows how to respond in tight games — if we have to come back, or play with a one-goal lead, or a tie game. It’s all different situations, and we’ve been through everything. You learn to relax and play hard every shift, and I think it’s a good thing to play so many.”
Still, people will point to their record in one-goal games (17-6-5) and conclude the ‘Hawks aren’t as good as their place in the standings (third overall) suggests. Chicago’s goal differential (+17) pales in comparison to juggernauts like Columbus (+45) and Minnesota (+44). And based on Corsi, the ‘Hawks are a mediocre puck-possession team.
Yes, this is what happens when you win three Stanley Cups in less than a decade — you get nitpicked. Simply winning isn’t good enough. The wins have to be convincing.
But that’s the bar the Blackhawks have set for themselves. When they won the Cup in 2010, 2013, and 2015, they were a dominant team. This year, more than ever, they’ve really needed their goalies to stand on their heads.
It’s why, if they want to win another Cup, they’ll need their rookies to keep improving.
It’s also why many expect GM Stan Bowman to be active leading up to the trade deadline, in spite of a tight salary-cap situation.
The ‘Hawks will face a big test tonight when they take on the Capitals, winners of seven straight, in DC.