After Saturday’s 3-0 win against the Anaheim Ducks, the Chicago Blackhawks are officially riding a four-game win streak. The team won a pair of road games against Vegas and Columbus and a controversial overtime thriller at home on Thursday prior to Saturday.
However, over the last five games, one player has really stood out consistently on the score sheet. Although not typically known for his offensive ability, defenseman Riley Stillman has been stepping up for the Blackhawks.
Over the course of the last few games, Stillman has been forced into a larger role on the blue line. A pair of COVID-19 absences from top defensemen Seth Jones and Jake McCabe forced Stillman, Calvin de Haan, Connor Murphy, and Jakub Galvas to all step up and play larger roles. So far, the quartet is doing just that, guiding the Hawks to wins over the Blue Jackets and Canadiens. Stillman in particular is having a stretch unlike anything we’ve seen in his young career.
Throughout his career, Riley Stillman hasn’t been known for his offensive prowess. Instead, he’s been a stay-at-home defensive presence with his size and length. In fact, Stillman has only scored two goals and added 14 assists in 82 career NHL games over five NHL seasons.
What if I told you that 10 of those 16 career points have come this season? What if I went even further to say that of those 10 points, six have come in the last five games? That’s right, Stillman is lighting up the scoresheet on this latest stretch.
His best game of the season came against the Blue Jackets in Columbus. Without Jones and McCabe, the Peterborough, Ontario native tallied two assists in 21:49 of ice time, his highest total this season. Stillman recorded the primary assists on both Alex DeBrincat goals in Columbus, including this beautiful slap pass to freeze the defense.
As noted, Stillman is not known for his offensive ability. However, his age-23 season is proving to be a slight offensive outbreak for the young defender. After signing a three-year extension in the offseason, it appears Stillman was an incredible find by the old regime.
Let’s get this stat out of the way. Although far from a perfect statistic, Stillman is a +3 over the last five games for the Hawks. Now that we’ve established that, we can dive into other good things the young Canadian is doing on the blue line.
In this latest five-game stretch, Stillman has accumulated 11 hits in addition to five blocks. He is a big, sturdy defenseman with his 6-foot-1, nearly 200-pound frame, and that has allowed Stillman to have a presence that has been missed in Chicago on the blue line for multiple seasons now. In fact, this latest offseason saw the Blackhawks add a ton of size and grit on the blue line, making them tougher to play against now that the team is starting to gel.
As for Stillman, this has been a stretch that shows his ability to move up and down the defensive pairings. Typically, Stillman plays a lesser role with the likes of Jones and McCabe, along with Murphy and de Haan, absorbing a majority of the minutes. However, in the event that more than one of those names is absent, as we saw on this latest stretch, Stillman has been able to step up. Aside from taking on more work, he is still bringing a lot of value.
What’s On Tap Next?
As the season rolls on, the Blackhawks are in Seattle on Martin Luther King Jr. Day for a 4:00 PM CST game with the Kraken. Even with Seth Jones returning to the lineup soon, keep an eye on Riley Stillman. He might keep up his latest hot streak that has seen him ride a five-game point streak into Monday.
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