Jan 15, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) mixes it up with Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf (3) at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Everything Tastes Right: Blackhawks 4, Maple Leafs 1

Box Score

Event Summary

War on Ice

Natural Stat Trick

Apologies for the delayed wrap but this isn’t called the most functioning alcoholic website on the internet for nothing, folks.

Anyways, this was a vintage Blackhawks starting in second gear and staying there as long as they could hold on for a win. In this case, all it toook was three power play goals. Yes, Kane’s first goal wasn’t statistically a power play goal but for all intents and purposes, it was.

Meanwhile, Toronto doesn’t have the skill level to make opponents pay when they make mistakes.

Make it an even 10.

–Kane’s first goal was a result of Duncan Niedermayer’s play on the power play. As we’ve discussed, the new wrinkle to that unit this year is Duncan Keith playing the role that made Scott Niedermayer a Hall of Famer. Keith is essentially a rover that floats in out and of the slot causing mismatches and opening up different passing lanes.

If the puck is behind the net or a scramble in front, Keith will be lurking somewhere in front of the goalie to ensure the Hawks outnumber the opponent. We’ve seen it countless times this year. On Friday, it led to the first goal when Keith had the puck ten feet from James Reimer and knew Patrick Kane was lurking near the far post.

A quick pass and it was an empty net goal.

I’d be interested to know whose idea it was to release the kracken that is Duncan Keith. My hunch is we’re finally getting to see Kevin Dineen’s creativity in action and what made him a fairly successful head coach. But it’s really just an educated guess.

–The other two Hawk power play goals between Kane and Panarin were a result of backdoor plays, which are always a pleasure to watch. However, I feel like the Blackhawks go to the Derrick Rose School of “If It Works Once, I Can Do It All The Time Now.” So we may be in store for a long stretch of power plays where the Hawks hold on to the puck along the half wall and magically hope the backdoor passing lane opens up.

–Last night, I was struck how insane it was that the Hawks recently went 24 games without losing in regulation. At 10 games now, I’m often going into games thinking “Ok, something weird is going to happen and they may just not have it tonight.” How they went 24 games drawing a point and really making it look effortless in the process will be something that will only continue to be more impressive as time passes.

–On the flip side, Toronto…Obviously, as McClure stated in the pre-game, they’re loading the roster with somewhat valuable crap in hopes of turning them into future assets when they’re actually good. The problem is, in the mean time, you have P.A. Parenteau as a first line player. Parenteau is a solid player but if he’s on a top line, your general manager is getting fitted for a suit to wear at the NHL Lottery drawing.

It’s very similar to the Blackhawks of the early 00’s. In that case, the Hawks had guys like Radim Vrbata playing on a top line. As Vrbata has shown, he’s well-fitted to be a secondary scorer. On the Hawks, Vrbata was getting a lion’s share of ice time and opportunities but wasn’t nearly skilled enough to score on a consistent basis. (Unless you were controlling him on NHL ’07.) There were plenty of nights where the Hawks were dropping games by a goal or two and you’d look back and say “Man, if Vrbata scored here, they may have been able to squeeze a point of it.”

By game 82, the thought started to creep in, “Ummm, maybe he’s just not good enough.”

Which is pretty much where Toronto stands right now and a long way of saying Nazeem Kadri is not elite.

–The Hawks have now opened up a two point lead on the Stars with Dallas still holding two games at hand. Perhaps more importantly, the Hawks now hold a 7 point lead on St. Louis with the same amount of games played.

All good.

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