Defensive shakeup yields positive results
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Joel Quenneville went back to his bread and butter on defense.
Coming off a troubled effort on the blueline in San Jose, Quenneville reunited Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook as well as Niklas Hjamlarsson and Brian Campbell. The result was a solid effort in the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 victory over Anaheim.
“I liked the way the pairs have been since we split them up but at the same time it’s a nice thing to get back to,” Quenneville explained. “In the course of the season and course of games anyone can play with anybody back there and we know we’re going to get the job done.”
Quenneville probably wasn’t wrong to split them up in the first place but the time was right to try and regain the Stanley Cup magic the four defensemen brought a year ago.
“Sometimes it’s good to shake things and sometimes it’s good to go with what you know,” Brent Seabrook said. “Sometimes it’s good to switch things up and light a fire under some guys butts and that’s what happened today.”
And it’s usually what happens when there is major change. It gets the notice of the players. Keith and Seabrook had a break in their on-ice minutes while apart, but the season was slipping away, so reuniting them was the right thing to do.
For the second consecutive game, Brent Seabrook blocked a shot in the groin area. He went to the ice for several moments but didn’t miss more than a shift.
“Different spots, but yeah it got me there,” Seabrook said. “Today was a little bit more painful than last game. Last game was a direct one and today it deflected off my stick. It doesn’t feel too good, as the men here would know.”
Hammer pointing up
After earning his first point of the season on this road trip, Niklas Hjalmarsson is starting to come around. He made a confident move with the puck at the Ducks blueline to go around a defender, in the third period, before hammering home his first goal of the season. He had a demonstrative celebration.
“It felt good,” Hjalmarsson said. “I thought I could have scored a couple more goals this game but I’m very happy with this one. It’s nice to see the puck go in. It doesn’t happen too often for me so I got really happy.
“I had a bad start this year, to be honest. The first 10 games I didn’t play good at all but I think the last 10 games here I’ve been playing way better and I’m getting back to my normal [level].”
Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle thought it was Sharp’s goal to break the tie.
Sharp was waiting like only a true sniper can.
“Playing the other guy, I saw him put his head down so I knew he was going to the middle,” Sharp explained. “I kind of anticipated as much as I could and was just hoping the puck was going to get to me. It’s tough to beat that goaltender but I was able to get over his glove, I guess.”
Praise for Crawford
Backup goaltender Corey Crawford is earning praise. He’s learning how to play the secondary role in his first full year in the league.
“It’s pretty tough to do,” Crawford said of playing sparingly. “To get the feeling you have to get right into it right away. It’s also hard to be a starter in this league. Nothing is easy.”
“I felt like he was showing shot the whole time,” Crawford said. “It looked like he fumbled it a little bit and it was just a matter of staying with it.”
Crawford has won three starts in a row and is 3-1 in his career against Anaheim. He has two wins versus the rest of the league in his career.
Quenneville didn’t dismiss the notion of a hot Crawford playing Saturday night against the Los Angeles Kings.
“It’s something we will think about, yeah,” Quenneville said.