Any time you have a young goaltender working, shot suppression is a great idea. In fact, it would be ideal if you could keep the puck in the opposite end of the ice as much as possible. When it’s a kid’s NHL debut? On the road? Helping the guy out is something that should top-of-mind for any team.
Anyways, the Blackhawks didn’t put a single shot on net in the opening ten minutes of Jaxson Stauber‘s NHL debut in St. Louis on Saturday night. Thankfully, Jordan Binnington wasn’t very good and Chicago’s first and second shots both went in. Stauber made 11 saves in the first period and his teammates scored twice on only three shots on net to take a 2-0 lead to the room for the first intermission.
Binnington lasted 23:59 and allowed four goals while making three saves (not an ideal stat line). He was pulled for Thomas Greiss with the Blackhawks hanging onto a three-goal lead (one for every Binnington save). Things got interesting in the third period, but the Blackhawks were able to hang on to get Stauber his first NHL victory.
Star 1: Jaxson Stauber
It might have been cool for Stauber to make his NHL debut on Sunday at home against the Kings, for whom is father played, but getting thrown into the fire in St. Louis on a Saturday night is another animal altogether. And, to his credit, Stauber was really good. The Blackhawks didn’t have a single shot on net in the first ten minutes of the game, but Stauber was back there turning everything away like a bouncer at a classy night club (something foreign to St. Louis). He made 20 saves in the first two periods, allowing two goals (the second of which came on a Blues’ power play). Stauber was under siege early but stood up to the pressure well. I was/am impressed. He stopped 28 of 31 for his first victory.
Star 2: Jason Dickinson
Star 3: Sam Lafferty
A law firm of just the guys who broke Binnington in the first period? The last time Sam Lafferty had a multi-point game was Oct. 21. The last time Jason Dickinson scored a goal was Nov. 3; he had two points to show for the entire months of December and January combined coming into this one, but equaled that in the opening period. Dickinson had 11 points in 39 games this season coming in and had three points in his first six minutes of ice time!
Lafferty did a great job setting up Dickinson for the first goal (on Chicago’s first shot on net) and then Dickinson returned the favor with a great clear on penalty kill duty that put Lafferty in a position to beat Binnington. Lafferty also had a couple opportunities to drop the gloves in this one. The entire third line had a goal by the end of 40 minutes, but these two stood out all night.
- I wish I could go back in time to before the game and put $20 on a parlay bet that Lafferty, Dickinson and Reese Johnson would score goals tonight. That might have paid enough for me to retire.
- Andreas Athanasiou scored Chicago’s fourth goal of the night — on their seventh shot on net (I can’t stop laughing) — and ended Binnington’s evening with a sub-.500 save percentage. Which makes me laugh twice as hard because my neighbor told me was starting Binnington on his fantasy team to pick up a win and hoped he didn’t hurt his save percentage or goals against average for the week. Whelp… oops!
- Isaak Phillips dropped the gloves for the first time in the NHL. After Ivan Barbashev took a cheap shot at Dickinson (not the first or last at his expense, or the last from Barbashev), Phillips asked him to dance. He got in the first shot or two before wearing a half dozen. I’m glad the kid came out of this one healthy.
- Things were too uncomfortable for a while in the third period after Nick Leddy scored St. Louis’ third goal. But Max Domi came to the rescue and extended the lead back to two with four minutes left in regulation. Domi’s 14th of the season came with assists to Patrick Kane and Tyler Johnson — the first points of the night from Chicago’s top-six forwards. The salute to the St. Louis crowd was well played as well.