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Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Rewind: Observations from Hawks-Wild

By Scott Powers

Here are three observations from the Chicago Blackhawks' 5-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Monday.

1. That's about as impressive as Brandon Saad has looked for the Blackhawks. You could tell early in the season that Saad had taken a step forward in his game and was creating more consistent chances, but he hadn’t converted on them like he did on Monday. He displayed a bit of everything against the Wild. He handled the puck in tight spaces, skated away from defenders, took a page out of Patrick Kane;s book with a spin-o-rama and backhanded pass to set up Kane for a goal, relied on his usual power move to the net and finally put home a goal. Monday's game was his seventh multi-point game of his career. His performance also served as a birthday gift to himself. He turned 21 on Sunday.

2. As lopsided as the score was in the end, Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford prevented the Wild from grabbing the game's momentum and taking a lead in the second period. He stopped 12 of 13 shots in the period, and a few of the saves were of high quality. He showed off his quickness and range when he moved from left to right to block Matt Cooke's opportunity in front of the net on a 2-on-1 rush. Crawford also denied a couple open blasts from Nino Niederreiter in the period. Crawford finished with 29 saves for the game. He’s now allowed two or fewer goals in seven games this season.

3. Whether the line of Saad-Brandon Pirri-Kane will satisfy Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on the defensive side is yet to be determined, but that second line is certainly more dangerous offensively with Pirri at center. For one, Pirri was joining Saad and Kane on rushes and putting pressure on the Wild. The Blackhawks lacked that full attack with Michal Handzus at center. Pirri didn't have a primary assist, but he had two secondary assists and was moving the puck. Kane's goal and assist on the second line Monday marked the first time he produced two even-strength points this season. Six of his 11 points have come on the power play. As for the second line's defense, it was creating more than it was allowing. The three players took eight more total shots (on goal, blocked, missed) than the Wild when they were on the ice.