Chicago Blackhawks crush the Blue Jackets 6-1 - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Blackhawks crush the Blue Jackets 6-1

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Columbus came into Thursday night's contest winning three straight. The Blue Jackets were probably feeling good about themselves but they failed to handle the class hike. The Blackhawks soundly beat the Jackets 6-1 to capture win number 37 on the season.

The Blackhawks were determined throughout. After Andrew Shaw scored his first of the night late in the opening frame the Hawks took the lead for good. Shaw made the most of his promotion to the first line as did Brandon Saad.

When a player gets to skate with Jonathan Toews it must add an extra dose of adrenaline. The newly formed first line was very productive as Shaw and Toews scored twice. Saad had a nice assist and recorded a game high five shots on goal.

The fourth line chipped in with a goal as Brandon Bollig opened the scoring with his seventh of the season. Marcus Kruger picked up two assists and his linemate Ben Smith was solid as well. Smith had a great night at the dot, winning seven of eight faceoffs. For the game the Hawks won 69 percent of all draws.

Handzus, Smith and Kruger have been doing a big job of killing penalties of late. They were a main reason Columbus failed to convert a power play attempt.

Corey Crawford wasn't called on to make many big saves. Crawford was good enough to stop 22 of 23 shots and didn't provide Columbus with much hope.

The second line of Patrick Kane, Michael Handzus and Patrick Sharp did not dent the twine. Sharp did not register a shot on goal and that is somewhat concerning. He was also guilty of a turnover and that led to the only Blue Jacket goal but it was one Crawford probably should have stopped.

Kris Versteeg, Peter Regin and Bryan Bickell skated on the third line. Bickell potted a Versteeg rebound for his tenth marker of the campaign.

Pretty much a solid effort up and down the lineup.

The defensemen were good in their own zone and helped spark the offense. Sheldon Brookbank made a fine stretch pass and picked up an assist on Shaw's first period marker.

Duncan Keith is on his way to another Norris Trophy.

Keith finished a +4 and picked up his 47th assist. Keith has more helpers than any defenseman, and overall ranks fourth in the league. Keith is a +21 which is by far the best of any defender in the top 10 in scoring. Keith's partner Brent Seabrook was a +3 with two assists and three shots.

Consistency will be the key for the Blackhawks in the last leg of the season.

To capture a top playoff spot the Hawks need to notch wins against lesser opponents. They did just that versus Columbus and will need to do the same in Buffalo on Sunday night.

Al's Shots

The trade deadline came and passed here with little fanfare.

GM Stan Bowman isn't under the same pressure as others. That's not to say Bowman is resting on his laurels but in the same regard this lineup didn't deserve to be ripped apart.

There was little chance any combination of Michal Handzus, Nick Leddy, Ben Smith, Icehogs and draft picks could net a very good second line center . Bowman wasn't about to make a bunch of holes in the roster to try to fill one.

Handzus, after winning a Stanley Cup wasn't going to be dealt.

Handzus played with multiple injuries in the playoffs and was a big contributor. Once Bowman signed Handzus for another season he wasn't going to be moved. Actually, Handzus was given a no movement clause (NMC), which meant he was going to be traded or sent to the minors without his permission.

There is a degree of respect a veteran player commands. Last season some thought Jamal Mayers should have been traded away or demoted. At the time I mentioned to anyone who would listen that wasn't going to happen.

In hockey players like Handzus and Mayers are shown respect for their many years of service. By all account both are solid citizens on and off the ice. They also have a positive effect on younger players.

Leddy and Smith fill a role plus both have affordable contracts. They are the type of player a GM has to think long and hard before dealing. To be able to pay top end talent a GM has to have his share of affordable contracts to offset the heavy expenditures.

Those who think the Hawks have room to improve won't get an argument from me. That said they were not going to be able to do so with very little cap space and no roster players to deal.

For those who love to play GM and dream up trades you could have a chance to do so this summer at the NHL Draft. Bowman could shuffle the deck then, but only if the playoffs end very early.

I will be back on Monday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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