If the preseason is any indication, then the Chicago Blackhawks’ offense is going to be just fine, as they steamrolled the Detroit Red Wings 6-1 on Thursday night.
The Blackhawks lit up the scoreboard in the second period, racking up four goals and showcasing the additional speed and grit that they’re hoping new acquisitions to their lineup will add this season.
If you missed the game and need a bite-sized snapshot of what took place, here are your Three Stars of the Game.
Third Star: Nick Schmaltz
Tongues will certainly be wagging about Alex DeBrincat scoring his first preseason goal in his first game, but the reality is that this play was made by Schmaltz as he skated into the offensive zone:
On the play, Schmaltz drove hard to the middle of the ice, drawing Detroit defenders in with him. That cleared an open path for DeBrincat, who converted a tremendous pass from Richard Panik into a superb goal to make it a 3-0 game.
That kind of assertiveness is exactly what the Blackhawks need from Schmaltz, and he formed a great combination with DeBrincat even without Patrick Kane on the ice.
Second Star: Corey Crawford
While the Blackhawks have scored 11 goals in their first two games, they’ve also given up a boatload of shots, and Crawford had to be in midseason form as he got his first action of the preseason.
The netminder ended up making 30 total saves in just two periods of work, including 16 in a fast-paced second period. The netminder was a big part of the reason that the Blackhawks’ penalty kill went a perfect 7-for-7 in the game, and he looked sharp and focused in his first game action since the Western Conference playoff sweep at the hands of the Nashville Predators.
First Star: Brandon Saad
Blackhawks fans are thrilled to have Saad back in the mix, but even the most optimistic supporter couldn’t have imagined just how good he would be in his first game back with the team.
Saad ended up netting a preseason hat trick as he scored three goals against the Red Wings, including this tap-in goal that finished off the three-peat:
What was truly noteworthy about Saad’s hat trick was that none of the goals were of the spectacular, jaw-dropping variety. They were the kinds of goals that the Blackhawks simply didn’t score last season, with Saad collecting rebounds near the front of the net and pounding away at loose pucks to tally three goals.
If Saad can be that kind of impact player for the Blackhawks, then their offense will take on a whole new dimension that they were lacking last season.