Nov 1, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) is defended by Calgary Flames center Matt Stajan (18) during the first period at  the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

I Got My Head Checked: Blackhawks 5, Flames 1

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

It’s November 1st and the Blackhawks find themselves tied for first place with Gabby and the Wild. Yes, things are back on track for the Hawks after dropping the first two games of the season.

You probably didn’t watch. Here’s what you missed.

–Things got pear-shaped at the end but this pretty much followed the script we’ve seen so far. Corey Crawford kept the Hawks in the game while they were outplayed in the first. Second period was a little better with Crawford making a few more big saves and then the Hawks put the game away in the third.

Really, though, this very easily could have been Crawford’s second consecutive shutout if it weren’t for a shattered Duncan Keith stick.

On the power play in the second, the Hawks gained a clean entry and set up a Keith one-timer from the slot. Keith’s stick snapped on the shot and the Flames had a 2-on-1 going the other way. Making matters worse, when Keith went to the bench to get a new stick someone dropped it instead of handing it to him. So the Flames had a clear cut 2-on-1 with the closest backchecker stickless. SPOILER ALERT – The puck ended up behind Corey Crawford.

Other than that, Crawford made a few exceptional saves on deflections but was also fortunate the Flames missed the net on the pucks he didn’t see.

–Patrick Kane’s first goal…I don’t know how many people on the planet make that play. He literally made a goal out of a nothing play. At the end of his shift and facing two Flames defenders, TJ Brodie and Derek Engelland, Kane weaved in and out to lose Brodie. Then he had Engelland to himself. He spun him inside-out and had a clear shooting lane. Kane beat Brian Elliott under his arm and the Hawks were on the board.

–Welcome to the Quenneville Circle of Trust, Tyler Motte. Motte put the game away when he made a big-time power move on TJ Brodie to gain inside position, kicked the puck to his stick and beat Elliott to the far side.

This has been brewing for a couple games now. Motte nearly scored a highlight reel goal against the Kings when he split the defense and made Drew Doughty look like Jrue Holiday. Only difference was Petr Budaj made the save. Tonight, Elliott didn’t.

The first part of the season, it seemed like Motte was constantly chasing the puck and never had it. Now, he’s starting to gain possession and make positive plays. Maybe he won’t be the ECHL Hall-of-Famer I predicted but he clearly would’ve been if they let him play there!

–There is nothing more poetic than a Niklas Hjalmarsson slap shot from inside the circles. He somehow manages to hit the same piece of twine in the upper right hand corner every damn time.

–Panarin and Anisimov were the best Hawks on the ice – based on the eye test and backed up by the advanced stats. Anisimov is really overflowing in confidence right now. He tried a play late in the third period that probably would’ve got his ass benched a year ago. Anisimov stole the puck from the Flames in the high slot and with the puck on his forehand, tried sliding the puck between his legs to Marian Hossa, a la Mario Lemieux in Game 4 of the 1992  Finals.

The Flames stole the puck.

Thursday finds the Avalanche here. The Hawks took 3 of 4 from them last year and the Avs have come back to Earth after their nice start.

Should be another fun one.

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