Like I said, there were a few guys who stood out to me last night, normally as soon as one guy starts to stand out and I start thinking I found my 4th star, they usually end up getting a goal or a big assist to push them into the top 3. Luckily last night there was strong contributions from just about every player, even Bollig was crashing the net with purpose.
But it really came down to two, maybe three guys. One of them was picked by our own wardrums for his game against the Blues over the weekend, and after another solid game last night, I think this meatball has earned some recognition. Niklas Hjalmarsson has been arguably the best defender for the Hawks all season, or at least the most consistent. When he was playing with Oduya, the two were just as good if not better than Marlboro 72. When Oduya started to struggle and Q mixed up the d lines, Toftbo kept his game at a high level playing with Duncan Keith. Hjalmarsson is definitely not known for his offensive prowess and I think he is more comfortable blocking a shot than taking one, which is what you want in a stay at home defender. But that is also what makes it so great when he does score. Did you see how excited he was? That by itself is worthy of some attention.
Hjammer also had a big hit behind the Blackhawks net, that I am not completely sure wasn't interference. I can't recall who he hit, but the Stars player was going around the net, let go of a pass from one side, skated around the net and was leveled by Hjammer on the other side. Pat and Eddie thought the player shouldn't have been admiring his pass but if he has time to skate to the other side of the net (from behind no less) I don't really get the admiring the pass call. It looked like a late hit. But it wasn't called and the game went on.
Hjalmarsson was the lone defender on the Stars 3 v. 1 rush that was converted for Benn's first goal of the night. That play wasn't Hjammer's fault, but it's pretty easy to look stupid during a rush like that, but the Hawks were able to fight back and get the win.
The D as a whole looked pretty strong last night minus the 3 on 1 and Keith screening Emery on Benn's second goal, Oduya made a few nice plays cutting off the fast break that the Stars were able to get repeatedly in the second period. At least twice, the puck was coming down on Oduya's off side and he skated across the ice to make a play to stop a potential short-handed situation.
Dave Bolland has decided to make an appearance in the regular season, which is always welcome, by going 15 for 19 at the dot and putting together two games where he didn't look completely incompetent. I still think he needs to be moved back to the 3rd line, but if he is able to keep this kind of play up, we may see a turn around on the second line once Sharpie comes back.
Also, wanted to give some recognition to Michal Handzus, he was only 43% at the dot last night, which was the worst on the Hawks for the night going 6 for 14 (Toews actually had the second worse percentage at 44%). But I did notice that Handzus won 2 or 3 important faceoffs in the Dallas zone while the Hawks had a 1 goal lead or were tied. He also had an assist on Stalberg's goal.
I rewatched the Stalberg goal 4 or 5 times because it was such a nice piece of work. If Handzus hadn't gotten thrown out of the dot for Shaw, that play probably wouldn't of happened. Shaw tied up on the draw allowing Stalberg to come in poke the puck free and up the ice, Handzus was skating with Stalberg. Stals touched the puck up to Zus as Stalberg sling-shot in front of Handzus, he returned the pass and the rest can be dug out of the back of the net. But if Handzus would have taken the draw, it probably wouldn't have happened like that.
So, I guess you can take your pick from Hjalmarsson, Oduya, Handzus or Bolland. Wait I said two or three guys didn't I? I'll pick Toftbo for getting his second goal of the year and one great celebration face.
Last thing: Honorary 4th star (not that it means anything) goes to all the first responders and emergency personnel who were apart of the horrific events in Boston yesterday. Those people go running towards the chaos instead of running away. And that is worthy of praise in itself.
Hawks take on the Nashville "Why don't you have a seat?" Predators on Friday. I will be in attendance for my final game of the season, keep this streak going and hopefully by Friday Sharpie will be back.