Chicago Blackhawks beat Edmonton 4-1, capture Presidents' Trophy - Dallas News |

Blackhawks beat Edmonton 4-1, capture Presidents' Trophy

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Chicago Blackhawks put their game faces on toward the end of the opening period and dispatched the Edmonton Oilers 4-1. With the victory, Chicago clinched the Presidents' Trophy for the best record in the league for the first time since 1991.

This means the Hawks will have home ice throughout the postseason. The award guarantees nothing else, as six past winners have lost in the first round of the playoffs. It should also be noted seven past Presidents' winners, slightly over 25% have gone on to capture the Stanley Cup.

Blackhawks faithful should enjoy the accomplishment and not fear players will be so overwhelmed by their success they will take their opening round opponent lightly. If the Hawks don't make a long playoff run it won't be because they are too enamored with regular season success.

As is often the case, not everything about a Blackhawk victory went according to script.

Ray Emery returned to action but had to leave the ice for good due to an injury at the 13:49 mark of period one. Emery's condition is listed as a lower body injury. It could be likely the same problem that plagued him last week. Maybe Emery is suffering from a hip ailment or a groin pull, or it could be something else.

What is apparent is Emery is injured and the playoffs are almost here so it may be time for stubborn Hawk fans to embrace Corey Crawford. Emery wasn't going to be the playoff starter but he was a nice 1A option for Joel Quenneville to lean on in the postseason. Possibly Emery will be fine with a little more rest but for now, Crawford appears to be the man as the playoffs are set to begin next week.

Crawford played really well Wednesday night and made an NHL save of the year candidate stop on Jordan Eberle. The Edmonton center had Crawford all to himself, but from close range was thwarted by a breath taking glove save.

Crawford had a very solid effort stopping all 14 Oiler chances. As good as his performance was, total team defense ruled the day for the Blackhawks. Edmonton was held to just two shots on goal in the middle frame and only 11 shots for the final 40 minutes.

It was an entertaining game that featured the return of Patrick Sharp and the debut of Hobey Baker winner Drew LeBlanc.

Sharp appeared to injure his knee late in the third period but was back on the ice shortly after. In one of the more determined efforts to score an empty net goal, Sharp notched his sixth tally for this year. How many Blackhawk faithful would have thought the President's Trophy would be won with Sharp only recording six goals on the season? It has been a difficult campaign for the often injured Sharp.

Make no mistake a healthy Sharp would go a long way to improve the chances of winning the Stanley Cup. Sharp is a streaky scorer who is often underappreciated in Chicago. The Canadian media does recognize Sharp as more than a fourth wheel. If Sharp stays healthy and finds his scoring touch it will make life more difficult on opponents. It will also give the Blackhawks another option on their often troubled power play.

Rookie center LeBlanc had an interesting night as he was caught a little out of position on the Oilers only marker. That's going to happen to a rookie but it didn't seem to affect LeBlanc's confidence. The puck seemed to find the rookie and he had some very good scoring chances. Getting fed from Patrick Kane does make things easier but LeBlanc knew where to go and had a nose for the net. Chicago fans should get another look at the rookie on Friday night as Dave Bolland will likely be out again with a lower body injury.

The Hawks play their final two games of the regular season this weekend. They face Calgary on Friday at home and then travel to St. Louis for a Saturday night contest.

My thinking is Crawford and most of the top billing regulars will face the Flames at the United Center. Then Quenneville will look to rest a few more players against the rugged Blues. Either way the coach knows best but if Emery is unable to play, Carter Hutton should get a start in net this weekend.

Although the Blackhawks aren't guaranteed a long playoff run by winning the Presidents' Trophy, it is an accomplishment that should be embraced by fans. Right now the Hawks deserve to be considered the best team in hockey.

We will find out if the same can be said once Lord Stanley is hoisted this summer.

I will be back on Saturday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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