Blackhawks’ fast start leads to BIG 4-1 win over Dallas
They say everything in Texas is bigger and nothing could have been truer in last night’s Chicago Blackhawks/Dallas Stars game. There was big goals, big saves and big hits which, saw the Hawks standing their ground and coming out of big D with a big two points. More importantly the Hawks are showing they may not out muscle you but they don’t need to in order to skate away with wins.
The Hawks have played the Blues, Rangers, Kings & now the Stars who are all solid defensive teams with excellent netminders and top drawer defenses. The Hawks managed to get points in each of these games which are huge coming down the stretch to the playoffs. In what could be a glimpse of the Blackhawks’ first round playoff opponent you’d have to say the Hawks can compete with anyone. Also keep in mind that they still do not have captain Jonathan Toews back either so these wins are really major and a testament to the Hawks finding and playing their team game. big, BIG, BIG!
The game saw a fast start by the Hawks. There were two goals scored within the first 1:42 of the game that stunned the Stars. The first goal was scored .10 seconds into the game which is not a NHL record but close. Andrew Shaw going up the slot left a perfect drop pass for Dave Bolland right behind him who beat Stars’ goal Kari Lehtonen top shelf over the stickside. From that point on the Stars’ were stunned.
Then just a minute and half later Patrick Sharp got a beauty past Lehtonen when he beat him top shelf glove side from the far boards faceoff circle. This goal was set up by good takeaway behind the net and a Stalberg screen 2-0 Hawks.
The second period was all Corey Crawford as he laid on his back, took bullets to the middle and generally just stood on his head to keep the Hawks lead at 2-0. He faced 11 SOG in the second which was the Stars best period. The Stars were going for their big offensive push, that Crawford stoned them was huge for the Hawks.
The third period was a repeat of the first where again the Hawks scored two goals within the first 1:45 of the period. The first goal .33 seconds into the period was by Marian Hossa on another sweet setup by Kane. The last Hawks goal was again by Patrick Sharp on a Dallas turnover at center ice which saw Sharp beating Lehtonen in the slot 4-0 Hawks. Jamie Benn spoiled the Hawks and Crawford"s shut out when he scored one late but the game was already over at that point. 4-1 Hawks win.
· The Hawks have learned how to win games against the NHL’s elite teams in a new way. They are playing a solid team game. In this game they led with only 2 giveaways to Dallas’s 14 which killed the Stars. They also had 8 takeaways to Stars’ 4 and block shots were 20-15 in Hawks favor as was SOG 31-22 & FOW 33-25. If Hawks can dominate and dictate play like this they will be very tough to beat. Great team effort.
· The area the Hawks were dominated in was of course the hits which were 41-14 in the Stars favor. Why this is significant is the Hawks sustained all those hits yet they hung in there and finished their checks, passes or clearing attempts despite being hit. The Hawks showed they can counterpunch not with their bodies but their skill.
· This team is blazing fast when it wants to be. They move the puck through the neutral zone very quickly which is needed when playing these stingy defensive physical type teams.
· Marcus Kruger is small in stature but big in heart he forechecks like someone twice his size. This will be needed come playoff time
· Corey Crawford – if he can play like this on a consistent basis no one will be taking the Hawks net from him. If he can stay this hot who knows how far the Blackhawks can go.
The Hawks won this game with their fast start which had the Stars completely off balance. In my opinion it was Crawford however, who turned the game and the momentum in the second period back to the Hawks favor when Dallas was making their push and employing physicality.
The important thing that I came away with from this game was the way that the Blackhawks may have been out muscled but they out skilled the Stars and that is this teams’ strength coupled with lethal speed. If they continue their solid defensive positioning and lead in all those stat categories I mentioned they should win a lot of games.
It was a big show that the Blackhawks put on in Dallas last night in front of a record selling 19,099 crowd. According to the NHL this was the biggest crowd since 1993 when the team moved to Dallas. It could just be a preview as well for the first round of the big stage known as the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Hawks showed Texas that they may like everything big there but the Hawks don’t mind big either. Big games, big goals, big saves, big plays, big moments are nothing new for the Hawks. In fact the bigger the stage the bigger the Blackhawks get and on this night they made Texas look not so big after all.
Three stars of the game – 1) Sharp 2) Bolland 3) Hossa
Hawks play again Sunday against the Washington Capitals which can be caught on NBCSN or WGN Radio 720. Start time is at 6:00 pm CT
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