By Jay Zawaski–
(CBS) NBCSN’s Rivalry Night on Wednesday was supposed to be a showdown between two old rivals gunning for playoff positioning, battling until the final horn sounded. Instead, Chicago delivered a reminder of the difference between a “good” team and an “elite” team.
Playing one of their worst overall games of the season, the Red Wings were were no match for the Blackhawks, who cruised to a 5-2 win and have suddenly put together two of their finest performances in a row.
Patrick Kane ran his point total up to 88 for the season, increasing his overall scoring lead to 17 points over Jamie Benn of the Stars.
Brent Seabrook added three points of his own en route to the blowout win.
Here are the shorties of the night.
Onward Christian soldier: Recently acquired defenseman Christian Ehrhoff made his Blackhawks debut Wednesday night and wasted no time fitting in with this new club. He made strong, confident puck decisions and showed a knack for creating offense while remaining defensively sound.
He led the team with eight shot attempts and registered 17:13 of ice time (14:49 of which was spent with Trevor van Riemsdyk). This is exactly what the Hawks hoped they were getting when they traded for Ehrhoff. Time will tell if he can put this sort of performance together on a consistent basis, but for one night, he looked like a really solid acquisition.
The Breadman cometh: Realistically, there are two candidates for the Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year): Chicago’s Artemi Panarin and Detroit’s Dylan Larkin.
With that in mind, Panarin picked a good night to put together another great performance. With his two goals Wednesday night, he now has six goals in his past six games.
When it’s all said and done, I believe Larkin will be the better overall player. After all, he’s only 19 years old and has already been called “The Next Yzerman” by some in the Red Wings organization. Maybe “The Next Toews” is more accurate.
However their careers shake out, Panarin’s the better and more impactful player right now. He should win the Calder Trophy.
Green day: Dale Weise’s green card issues have finally been solved. He joined the team in Detroit and is expected to make his Blackhawks debut Thursday night when they face the Boston Bruins.
Weise will bring a physical and intense game primarily, but he can put the puck in the net as well. His 14 goals were good for fourth on the Montreal Canadiens and would put him fifth on the Blackhawks behind Artem Anismiov (15).
Expect him to play alongside Teuvo Teravainen and Tomas Fleischmann.
88, and counting: Kane’s 88th point of the season tied a career high and put him 17 points ahead of Benn for this year’s scoring title. Did you know that last season’s scoring champ (Benn) won that crown with only 87 points? So Kane has already surpassed last season’s scoring leader and has 17 games to go. He’s on pace for 111 points. If he keeps that pace, he will be the first player since Henrik Sedin in 2009-’10 to surpass the 110-point mark.
Baby, come back: I don’t know about you, but I miss the Red Wings. I’ve even gone as far as to call myself a Red Wings fan lately. Trust me, I hated them as much as the next guy back in the days of the Central Division rivalry. My favorite game in Hawks history is Game 7 in 2013, when the Blackhawks eliminated the Red Wings, but it sucks to only see them twice a year. I wonder if other Hawks fans feel the same way and find themselves rooting for the Wings a bit these days like I do.
Maybe it’s just my life-long desire to see the Blackhawks and Red Wings meet with the Stanley Cup on the line.
Jay Zawaski is the executive producer of the Spiegel and Goff Show on 670 The Score and the Blackhawks columnist for CBSChicago.com. He also hosts a weekly podcast with James Neveau of NBCChicago.com that you can listen and subscribe to here. Follow him on Twitter @JayZawaski670.