Hawks’ tight defense bolsters offense
BY HERB GOULD For Sun-Times Media December 13, 2013 9:54PM
Updated: January 15, 2014 6:15AM
The Blackhawks, who’ve scored at least six goals in three consecutive games for the first time in more than 20 years, say that’s not because they’re trying to give rookie goalie Antti Raanta a cushion.
Instead, they’re emphasizing tight defense in front of Raanta. And they’re proving their often-stated point about good defense leading to offense.
“If anything, you want to play better defensively with a new goalie in net,’’ captain Jonathan Toews said. “There’s been a lot of scoring, but it’s not going to happen every night. We try to go out and score goals, but we also try to play smart defensively. That’s our main focus.’’
That focus has resulted in 6-2, 6-2 and 7-2 victories. The last time the Hawks scored six or more in three consecutive games was in January 1993.
“Antti’s been great,’’ Toews said. “You can’t ask any more of him. He’s been as solid as they come for a young guy. We’re just trying to play as solid as we can in front of him. If the offense keeps coming, that’s good.’’
Raanta is 5-0-1 and hasn’t allowed more than two goals in a game while handling the pressure to fill in for the injured Corey Crawford.
Flyers forward Brayden Schenn has been fined $2,230.77, the maximum allowed, for cross-checking Kris Versteeg. The cross-check took place in the second period of the Hawks’ 7-2 victory Wednesday.
◆ Andrew Shaw, who has a five-game points streak (three goals, two assists), can set a career high in that department with a point against the Maple Leafs.
◆ Jamal Mayers officially announced his retirement.