Blackhawks wash away Islanders; head to NYC to face Rangers

The Blackhawks are 5-0-1 in March (8-1-1 in their past ten) and have outscored opponents 19-8 in the past six games.

Patrick Kane who?

Corey Crawford has gone .961 sv% in March. The top line of Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp is suddenly on fire. The power play is scoring, the penalty kill has been doing its thing.

The switch, as they say, has been flipped.

Chicago didn't steamroll the Islanders, but they played a very solid game against one of the best teams in the East. Jaroslav Halak and Nick Leddy were out for the Isles due to injuries. Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa scored two goals apiece.

Andrew Shaw left the game early after headbutting Islander Brock Nelson. From the NHL site, regarding the act: "There are no specified fines or suspensions for head-butting, however, supplementary discipline can be appplied by the Commissioner at his discretion."

Nikolay Kulemin scored the Islanders' lone goal early in the third to make the final score 4-1.

The Blackhawks should be a bit concerned that their team has become known for "flipping the switch", because the league as a whole has been building their teams on the same model as Chicago and LA - who both based their model on Detroit. Draft and scout well; develop from within; sign complimentary free agents to existing talent. The gap between East and West has narrowed; the Central has become quite tight. In future seasons, it won't be possible to simply cruise through the regular season and assume that they'll be able to play as they ought come the playoffs.

Based on reports coming out of the NHL GM meetings, the salary cap will be around $71-72M next season. The Blackhawks will have decisions to make in order to fit a full roster under the cap as multiple new deals such as Toews and Kane's kick in.

But in the meantime, the Blackhawks are stepping up to fill the void left by Patrick Kane's absence as he recovers from a broken clavicle. If the Blackhawks continue to play well, they can make it deep enough into the playoffs - and far enough on the calendar - to see Kane return to the lineup this season.

Three stars:

1) Jonathan Toews - CHI

2) Corey Crawford - CHI

3) Marian Hossa - CHI

The Blackhawks head to New York City on Wednesday to face the Rangers.

Where to view: 7:00pm CDT, on NBCSN, TVA, SN1