(Before It's News)
We’re nearly a month through the regular season and somehow the Blackhawks sit atop the Central Division and Western Conference. Each division in the league looks tough, but not too many people expected the shitshow *sorry Mom* Central to play out the way it has. Granted, we’re a month in, so there’s a helluva lot of hockey to be played but, St. Louis, Nashville, Dallas, and Minnesota were all expecting great things this season and so far, they’re falling flat on their faces. That’s not to discredit the Blackhawks either, especially because they’ve played some exceptional hockey in the past two weeks. It’s more of a dig at the rest of the division. The Blackhawks are at their most vulnerable state in a few years with a new wave of youth getting a lot of action and teams are just letting their opportunities to gain a lead in the standings slip away. Not that I mind or anything. Keep sucking. Go ahead. See what I care.
It seemed like tonight might be another routine win for the Blackhawks when Richard Panik lit the lamp eleven seconds into the game, but my happy analysis lasted a whole ‘nother minute as the Hawks began to look outmatched. The puck handling was poor and mistakes on defense lead to a Brett Ritchie equalizer at the 7:25 mark in the first period and a Curtis McKenzie redirect that gave the Stars about ninety seconds later. A couple of useless power plays and some defensive miscues, the Blackhawks were lucky to get out of the period down one. At the end of one, the score was 2-1 with shots at 12 apiece.
In period number two, Ryan Hartman backed up his physical play with a great snipe from the top of right wing circle. Shortly after, Kane netted a powerplay tally that launched the Blackhawks in front, 3-2. While they didn’t score for the rest of the period, they kept up the even strength pressure. Along with killing a two minute minor, they were unsuccessful in adding to their lead on a four minute double minor powerplay drawn by Tyler Motte. That was the only weakness in the period; the powerplay. Through two, the Hawks not only had a 24-21 edge in the shots department, but also in the goal column, 3-2.
The third period was solid from a defensive standpoint. While the offense couldn’t tally, the defense held their own and helped out their goaltender. They limited the turnovers they made in the first two periods and did some excellent work preventing Dallas from getting direct shots on Crawford. They played a little too much prevent defense for my liking, but the end result is all that mattered. Crow tacked on another eleven saves in the period, ending his total at 30 for the night. A late high sticking minor by Marcus Kruger had the Stars threatening on the powerplay to end the game, but Crawford was able to thwart the numerous chances from Dallas. The Stars edge the Blackhawks in shots, 33-32, but it’s the Hawks that take this one 3-2 and improve their win streak to five games.
Both teams had their chances and whiffed, so it would be unfair to say the Blackhawks got lucky tonight, but thankfully we don’t see the Stars for a while… right?! NOPE! Puck drops at 6 pm CT in Chicago tomorrow night (November 6th).
The PK continued its successful run as of late, killing off all three powerplays for the Stars, including a minor for the last 1:49 of the third WITH expert penalty killer Marcus Kruger in the penalty box.
Besides being tagged with a questionable tripping penalty, Gustav Forsling earned some more playing time tonight. Quick on his feet and didn’t look panicked in situations most 20 year old defensemans would.
Corey Crawford. Simple as that. The two goals in the first stemmed from poor defense. If Crawford makes the saves, they’re highlight reel worthy. The Stars gave Crawford a heavy workload, but held his own once again. His biggest positive was his ability to limit rebounds, especially on the PK. Another nice night for the netminder.
The entire second period looked good for Chicago. Not only were they able to net two on Niemi, they were able to get a powerplay tally and outshot the Stars 12-9 in the period. The defense looked a little better in the period, but they weren’t overworked.
Ryan Hartman played a very Andrew Shaw-esque game. Many fans were hoping he’d fill that role, but until this point, his performance had been lackluster. Hartman netted a goal and through two periods, had the lone two hits credited to the Blackhawks.
Artem Anisimov was able to keep his point streak alive with a dandy assist on Kane’s PP goal.
With the game on WGN, the intermission analysis was bound to suck. They had a segment where players read tweets about them. It works for Kimmel, but these players have absolutely NO personality in front of the camera. Painfully awkward. Then it was up to Steve Konroyd and Lauren Magiera(?) to bring it home. Next time, they should just play an old SHOUTCAST.
It was nice of Kane to score a powerplay goal, but it was the five failed attempts that would’ve haunted the Hawks had they lost this one. It really stunk up a nice victory and the only reason I’m not putting it in “The Ugly” is because Kaner was able to net what ended up being the game winner on the PP. Inability to successfully get the puck into the offensive zone handed the Hawks the impossible task of sustaining pressure during the advantages.
Another slow beginning to the game allowed for the Stars to jump on Crawford early. Yes, Richard Panik gave the Hawks a nice little headstart eleven seconds in, but the next 19:49 were all Stars. They had complete control and their PK looked unbeatable because the Blackhawks simply forgot how to enter the zone.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Blackhawks aren’t a physical team and they don’t require a physical presence to thrive on offense. However, when one player is essentially the only Blackhawk in the hit column and he sees the ice for ten minutes, you need somebody else to step up. Yes, I know, it’s not their game, but they were teed up like a damn pinata tonight and couldn’t do a thing about it.
They had a few chances offensively in the third, but the Blackhawks seemingly went into their shell and played prevent defense. They got lucky, but that must change if the Blackhawks want to hold on to one goal leads in the future. I’m not saying they need to play aggressive offense, but even their powerplay opportunities were mainly in the defensive zone. It didn’t help that the Blackhawks had to kill off a penalty for the final two minutes of the game.
Jesus Christ, the ice is f***ing terrible in Dallas. Sure, it’s hot in Texas, but it’s still a damn ice rink. There were blowouts and bouncing pucks at every turn.
Steve Konroyd announcing a hockey game had me banging my head on the wall all night, so “The Ugly” here is my face after the bruises from the drywall.
I forgot that Jordin Tootoo was on the Blackhawks at least four times tonight. Couldn’t figure out who the hell was on the ice and his number is his damn name.
The #Fatrick Stankus Fatsy Stats
The Hawks and Stars drew even at the dot, each taking 26.
I’m still not 100% clear on the whole Corsi concept, but Hartman, Hossa, Panarin, Campbell, Forsling, Schmaltz, and Anisimov finished with a Corsi above zero, so, hurray?
Left Wing – Center – Right Wing
Panik – Toews – Kane
Panarin – Ansimov – Hossa
Hartman – Kruger – Motte
Rasmussen – Schmaltz – Tootoo
Keith – Campbell
Kempny – Seabrook
Forsling – Hjalmarsson