There was a lot to like in the Blackhawks 4-3 win over the Jets and one area (towards the bottom) in particular that is quite troublesome.
–Ray Emery buckling down after two early Winnipeg goals. The natives were restless with Emery from the time Gene Honda announced he was starting. Two goals in the first 8 minutes didn’t help matters. Nevermind that both came off tips less than three feet in front of him. To his credit, Emery stood tall the rest of the way only giving up one more goal late in the second period on a scramble in front. In the third, he was outstanding including a post to post save on an Antropov blast. Games like these (27 saves on 30 shots) are exactly what the Hawks need from their back-up goalie.
–The Kane-Hossa-Carcillo line dominated all night. Carcillo set the tone from the opening shift when he had about 4 checks and they never stopped. I wouldn’t count on performances like that every game but for one night, they were spectacular. In fact, if it wasn’t for Jim Slater scoring twice, they very well could have been all 3 stars of the game.
–They won’t be showing this game during Jonathan Toews’ Hall of Fame induction. Toews seemed out of sorts for most of the night including a very sloppy shift to end the game. With a chance to seal the win on an empty net goal, Toews tried to skate through the last Jet defender. When he was forced to the outside, he flung a blind pass to the middle to send the Jets on an easy breakout the other way.
–The most troubling thing all night though was the Duncan Keith-Nick Leddy pairing. It seemed like every time the Jets got sustained pressure, it was with that pairing on the ice. What’s worse is the secret’s out and teams are forcing the puck into Leddy’s corner fully knowing they’re going to come out of it with the puck. Winnipeg was funneling all their pressure towards Leddy’s side by either dumping the puck in his corner or forcing Keith to reverse the puck back to Leddy. When the puck got to Leddy, there were immediately two Jets on him.
The good news is that even though teams are beating down on Leddy in the early going, it doesn’t seem to have affected his confidence. He proved it in the third when he had two Jets bearing down on him and he pulled a little spin move to shake both of them off. Guys with confidence problems don’t pull off moves like that; they blindly fire the puck up the boards.
Of course, the flip side of that is the Hawks have single-handedly neutered one of the most dynamic weapons in the game. Duncan Keith simply can’t get anything going and at some point, the Hawks need to release him off the burden of skating with a 20-year old defenseman. There will be a time when they can play together but it is not now.