The Chicago Blackhawks secured the President’s Trophy as the league’s best regular season team on Wednesday night, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 in the Great White North. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Johnny Oduya, and Patrick Sharp all scored for the Hawks, and Corey Crawford made 14 saves in relief of an injured Ray Emery to nail down the victory for Chicago.
Here are Madhouse Enforcer’s Three Stars of the game:
Third Star: Corey Crawford
Crawford has been an object of scorn among Blackhawks for quite some time now. While there is a vocal group of fans who support him, there is perhaps an equal number who have been clamoring for Ray Emery to get more playing time in net, but on Wednesday night, that question went out the window early in the game.
With about six minutes left in the first period, Emery left the game with an undisclosed ailment. In his place, Crawford had an excellent game, making 14 saves and holding the Oilers off the board for the remainder of the game. Even with the excellent job that the Hawks defense did in minimizing chances for the opposition, Crawford still was called upon to make one especially ridiculous save, and he came through in a big way:
Second Star: Patrick Kane
We’ll have more on Kane a little bit later in the morning, but for now, we’ll focus on the offensive punch he displayed. In game 46, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him beginning to slow down a bit in his offensive production, but if the last few games have been any indication, Kane shows no sign of letting up any time soon, and that’s great news for the Blackhawks’ playoff chances.
First Star: Michal Handzus
Handzus had three assists in this game, and while two of them were secondary helpers, it still underscores the kind of impact he has been having since coming over to the Hawks at the trade deadline.
When the deal was made, Handzus was looked upon as someone not even worthy of the title “consolation prize” to those who wanted the team to acquire a second line center. While his play hasn’t exactly made him a bonafide second liner, he has stepped up quite a bit in locking down the third line center position. His ability to win faceoffs, his ability to facilitate the offense (one goal, five assists in 10 games with the Hawks), and his defense prowess have all been on full display, and it can be argued that the move over from the Sharks has really boosted his resolve to succeed.