Armed with newfound confidence under interim head coach Derek King, the Chicago Blackhawks look to keep rolling when they close out a four-game road trip with a visit to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.
The Blackhawks are 5-1-0 since King replaced Jeremy Colliton on Nov. 6, after winning just once in 12 games under Colliton.
“These guys are just feeling good about themselves,” King said. “They’re getting their confidence back. They’re not as fragile as when I got here. It’s nice, but it’s still a journey. We’re just going to keep picking away day by day.”
Chicago’s most recent triumph came in the form of a 1-0 win against Vancouver on Sunday. The Blackhawks have held their opponents to two goals or fewer in each of their five wins under King.
“I think their confidence is building every time we play games like that. You can just see them getting more and more comfortable with each other,” King said. “They found a way to battle for each other, to play for each other and they’re gradually getting out of that sense of when things go wrong it’s depressing. ‘Things go wrong? We’re OK holding the fort and we’ll get out of this.’ That confidence is coming back.”
Alex DeBrincat leads the Blackhawks with 11 goals and had scored in three straight games before being held off the scoresheet against Vancouver. Patrick Kane leads the team in scoring with 17 points (six goals, 11 assists).
“It is pretty miserable when you lose so much like we did in the beginning — and frustrating,” goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. “It’s a lot more fun to see guys smiling and having fun on the ice, having fun in practice. … I’m happy that we’re on the right side of things now and we can actually enjoy hockey, because it’s going to be a long season. We’ve got to keep building on this, keep improving as a team.”
The Flames return home winners of three straight as part of a 4-1-2 run on a seven-game road trip — all against Eastern Conference teams. They’ll hope to bring their successful road record to the comforts of home, where they are 2-1-3 and will play each of their next three games.
“I think (Sunday was) our eighth game in 13 days with two back-to-backs,” Flames coach Darryl Sutter said. “Give the players credit. It’s not easy.”
Winger Johnny Gaudreau has been on a roll, bringing a four-game point streak during which he has four goals and three assists into the game against Chicago. Gaudreau’s 14 assists and 22 points lead the Flames, while his eight goals put him in a three-way tie for second after Andrew Mangiapane’s 15 goals.
Gaudreau’s run over the past week earned him honors Monday as he was named the NHL’s first star of the week.
“Johnny’s having a heck of a year right now and he’s such a dynamic player,” defenseman Noah Hanifin said. “Every game he seems to get great looks.”
–Field Level Media