If the mark of a great team is the ability to step up in the face of adversity, then the 2015-16 Chicago Blackhawks are making the case that a summer of significant changes hasn’t diminished them in some of the most important ways.
It helps that all of those contests have been at home though, giving Chicago the benefit of last change. Goaltender Corey Crawford also posted back-to-back shutouts on Saturday and Monday, which has been critical for the Blackhawks given that they were unable to score a single goal in the first 60 minutes of either game.
That being said, Chicago has still had to fill a substantial void as Keith was averaging a team-leading 24:21 minutes per game. Brent Seabrook logged more than 26 minutes in two of the Blackhawks’ last three contests, but rookie blueliners Trevor van Riemsdyk and Viktor Svedberg have also been asked to make a big jump.
van Riemsdyk went from averaging around 17 minutes to logging more than 21 minutes per contest while Svedberg has been on the ice for more than 19 minutes in each of his last two contests, beating his previous high of 16:54.
Keith is still expected to miss another three-to-five weeks though, so Chicago’s trial is still in the early stages. The next test will be to see how Chicago responds on the road against Winnipeg and Minnesota. Things don’t get any easier after that either as the Blackhawks will host Los Angeles on Monday and St. Louis on Wednesday.