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ANALYSIS: Defensive Contributions, Galvas Impresses in Win Over Columbus

Chicago's blue line effective at both ends in comeback win over Blue Jackets

by Carter Baum @CarterBaum /

Heading into Tuesday game in Columbus, it was easy to look at the Blackhawks defensive group and wonder how the night might play out. Time-on-ice leader Seth Jones and shutdown defenseman Jake McCabe joined Erik Gustafsson in COVID protocol ahead of puck drop, leaving Connor Murphy and Calvin de Haan as the lone veteran leaders of a youthful blue line.

What might've been a question mark turned out to be the biggest strength on the night as Chicago allowed just 26 shots in total in a 4-2 win over the Blue Jackets. On the other end, Murphy and de Haan each scored and Riley Stillman added a primary assist in Chicago's three-goal response to an early 1-0 hole. Perhaps the biggest impact was that of Jakub Galvas in his NHL debut, logging a team-leading 23:41 of ice time in the win with a shot on goal and a plus-1 rating.

"Pretty good road win for us," interim head coach Derek King said. "We had some new bodies in the lineup, a new D corps. I thought those different guys stepped up tonight and a solid effort."

"It was really exciting to have that (win)," Murphy said. "We played a solid game, didn't give up too much and especially after a long travel from Vegas and the end of a road trip, it's exciting to get that win."

The road swing ends on a positive note with wins in Vegas and Columbus to snap a six-game winless streak, but the team knows a loss in Arizona to open the trip -- against the the team with the league's worst record -- is a missed opportunity at a perfect excursion.

"It's huge," King said of the trip's success. "I think we'll probably look back at that Arizona game and kind of kick ourselves a little bit for letting that one slip away. That would've been a game coming into this we probably should win and then these two (in Vegas and Columbus) would be battles. I liked the way we responded. We responded in Vegas and then had a couple days off, rewarded them... and I thought we did a great job (tonight)."

Video: King on beating CBJ


With the pair of blue-line goals, Chicago has tallies from defenseman now in their last three games. As a unit, the defenseman rank just behind DeBrincat's five-goal trip with four in total over the last week. McCabe and Stillman each scored in the last two games, respectively.

"It's huge for where we are," King said of the goals. "You miss a couple of your top D, maybe some guys are not scoring right away and then you get contributions from other players. That's what we need. We needed that from day one for us to be successful."

"It's huge," said Alex DeBricnat, who scored twice on thie night himself, including a late empty-netter. "Any time you can get everyone firing on all cylinders and everyone feeling good about their game, it goes a long way. Confidence is key in this league and if we have that, I think we can beat anyone."

Video: DeBrincat on win over CBJ


With the Blackhawks so shorthanded on the blue line, Galvas, a 2017 fifth-round pick, was called on to made his NHL debut in Columbus.

Signed to an entry-level contract last May, the Czech defenseman had six points (1G, 5A) in 20 contests in his first season in North America with the Rockford IceHogs before being called to the taxi squad on Jan. 6. He was one of the final cuts from training camp in October after a strong preseason showing, and it showed why on Tuesday night as the 5-foot-11 defenseman proved a steadying force despite it being his first game.

Aside from leading the team in overall ice time, he was also immediately thrust onto top-unit power play and second-unit penalty kill roles. Galvas logged a team-high 6:52 of power play time and 1:51 of penalty kill time, third most among defensemen behind Murphy and de Haan.

"I'll be honest with you, I was very surprised how good he played," King said "I knew he was pretty calm with the puck and could skate and could make plays and was a smart player, but he looked really good today. He stepped up. That's not easy."

"I thought he was super comfortable with the puck," Murphy said. "He's a good skater and that's what's hard I think when you initially come as a young D-man (to the NHL), it's hard to be poised with the puck. I mean, I still have a hard time with that after years. I think it's impressive to see with him being able to do that on the road, stepping up the game. His skating and puck play is impressive."

Video: Murphy on win, defensemen


Some assists over the course of a season are the result of an easy pass or being in the right place at the right time. But for the second time this season, Philipp Kurashev earned every drop of ink on the scoresheet for his lone assist on the night -- and then some.

In a 1-1 game late in the second period, the second-year winger turned what would've been a standard dump and chase into a go-ahead goal through nothing but determination. Kurashev beat former teammate Adam Boqvist and Jake Bean in a 100-plus-foot race to a puck dumped the length of the ice into the Blue Jackets end, then turned and found a late-trailing de Haan for the 2-1 lead from the high slot.

It was almost an identical play to one Kurashev made exactly one month ago on Dec. 11 in Toronto to make it a 4-3 game in Chicago's comeback bid north of the border in a late 5-4 defeat.

"He took off," King said. "He's done it before this year, where he's just out-skated their defensemen and beat them to pucks. He made a great play. He's a skilled guy. He can make plays. He's smart."

Tweet from @CarterBaum: Philipp Kurashev on Dec. 11 in Toronto and on Jan. 11 in Columbus. #Blackhawks

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