Style points don’t count for much these days.
With two of their best players out for an extended period, taking two unshared points from any Western Conference opponent has to be considered a success for the Hawks no matter what it looks like.
For the first twenty-five minutes of the game, it didn’t look it would be much of a struggle. Bryan Bickell scored his second goal in as many games from nearly the exact same spot. This time, Bickell snapped a real quick snap shot and it beat Andrew Raycroft to the glove side.
Ten minutes later, Jonathan Toews came into the zone, pulled a nifty stop and go to create some space from the Dallas defenseman and sent the puck towards the net. With Jack Skille crashing the net and Stephane Robidas pushing him right into his goalie, Raycroft had no chance of stopping the shot.
In the second period, Jeremy Morin notched his first career goal. The play started with Dallas sending three of their four players into the Hawks end. The puck kicked out of the zone to Dave Bolland who spearheaded a 3-on-1 the other way. Bickell drove the net and Bolland fed a perfect pass to Morin who sniped it right past Raycroft.
The Stars scored twenty seconds later when Corey Crawford couldn’t cover a loose puck and James Neal happily pushed it past him.
Just twenty-five seconds after that, the Hawks once again capitalized on an overzealous Stars forecheck. Dave Bolland pushed the puck past a flat-footed Brendan Morrow and led a 2-on-1 with Troy Brouwer. Bolland once again gave a pretty feed to Brouwer who made a simple back-hand move to bury the puck into the wide-open net.
The Stars waited for the loose soil to be thrown over the top of them after that. They took two horrendously bad penalties but the Hawks couldn’t complete two passes in a row, let alone get a shot towards the net.
From there, the Hawks sloppiness carried over into their even-strength play and the Stars happily accepted their invitation back into the game. Brandon Segal struck first with a seeing-eye shot that snuck through about eight guys. Then a minute later, Loui Eriksson finished off a tick-tack-toe passing play to cut the lead to one.
In the third period, the Stars had a couple of opportunities but Crawford was there every time. After the Hawks killed off a too many men penalty three and a half minutes in, the Stars never really threatened again. The Hawks, for lack of a better word, took the air out of the ball by forcing Dallas to go the entire 200 feet. If it wasn’t for Brent Seabrook blowing a tire in the final 30 seconds, Dallas would have never even been close to getting an opportunity for the equalizer.
—This was a huge win for the Hawks especially when you consider they didn’t have to split any of the points. The Hawks go on the road for the next two games against tough opponents in San Jose and Colorado. They needed to get the two points from this one so they weren’t in a must-win situation this weekend.
–For as bad as the Hawks power play was, their play in the last 15 minutes of the third almost made up for it. They were as good defensively as they have been all year. Jonathan Toews was playing at a maniacal pace in the defensive zone and neutral zone all game but in the third, he was at his best. As a team, they kept it incredibly simple by chipping pucks deep, making sure they always kept a forward high in the slot, and never left their defensemen out to dry.
The only two mistakes they made were when Dave Bolland and Bryan Bickell fired two blind passes that sprung the Stars on a breakout. Other than that, it was a nearly flawless third period.
–That was as good as Toews has been all year. He was active all over the ice. Another goal and an assist to go along with all-around superior play.
–Was Brendan Morrow even out on the ice tonight? The only time I noticed him was when Dave Bolland walked right around him enroute to the Hawks fourth goal and when Jake Dowell planted him into the boards.
–4 points in two games for Dave Bolland? Be still my heart.
–I did find it curious that late in the third period with the Hawks on the power play and nursing the one-goal lead, Nick Boynton was manning the point on the second power play unit. How man-advantage challenged is Niklas Hjalmarsson if he can’t even sniff a second of power play time but Boynton can? Curious.
–Viktor Stalberg sat the final 23 minutes of the game. Apparently, he committed some kind of war crime on Dallas’ third goal.
–A few people have asked me about this so I’ll set the record straight. On the Boers and Bernstein Show today, they were discussing the Blackhawks and someone named John emailed the show. He said he blogs about the team and went on to explain why there is a lack of buzz surrounding the team. Anyways, that wasn’t me but you better believe the Fifth Feather legal team will look into just how there’s another John blogging about the Blackhawks without our hand-written permission.