One of the biggest reasons the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010 was its scoring depth and ability to roll four lines every night. That has been missing the last two seasons but through 14 games this year is sure looks like it is back. It's hard not to be excited about what could lay ahead for the Hawks after watching their "role" players lead them to victory.
The Blackhawks started off the game by getting some really good sustained pressure in the offensive zone leading to a couple of early chances. The 2nd line of Patrick Kane, Dave Bolland, and Patrick Sharp had particularly strong shift early that set the tone. Chicago's defense got off to a strong start as well. In fact, the Sharks did not register their first shot on goal until 11:38 into the game. Things got a bit hairy at the 15:31 mark when Jonathan Toews boarded Joe Thornton and baited him into dropping the gloves. It was not a very smart play because San Jose would get a 4 minute power play out of the deal. Toews was very lucky to only receive 9 minutes in penalties too. Patrick Marleau found a way to get on the scoresheet by taking a bad interference call on Bolland to negate the remainder of their power play. It was Bolland that would get the poetic justice by scoring the game's first goal just 25 seconds after being taken down by Marleau. Bolly made a nice little toe drag move to get around Brad Stuart and fired off a quick wrist shot. Antti Niemi made the save but gave up one of many rebounds on the night. Bolland kept his stick on the ice and didn't stop moving towards the net and was rewarded with an easy tap in goal. Kane and Duncan Keith assisted on the Rat's 5th goal of the season.
Marcus Kruger scored a goofy goal just 3:05 into the 2nd period. He flicked the puck into the zone from outside the blue line and it bounced over Niemi's pad and off the post. Nemo had no idea where the puck was and Kruger continued hard to the net and much like Bolland, had himself an easy tap in goal. Jamal Mayers and Niklas Hjalmarsson picked up the assists on Frogger's 3rd goal of the year. The Sharks responded less than two minutes later catching Keith and the Hawks flat footed in their own zone. Tim Kennedy found himself all alone in front of the Hawks net after a great pass from Logan Couture. Kennedy was able to score a nice goal with Ray Emery down and no defensemen to help him out. Brad Stuart got the secondary assist on Kennedy's first goal of the year. The Blackhawks would get that goal back with a power play goal at 14:40 on the sandwich frame. Andrew Shaw was in the right place at the right time and cashed in on Niemi's lack of rebound control for his 3rd goal of the year. Keith ripped a shot from the point that Niemi saved but the rebound came right to Shaw, who was camped out in front of the crease. Nemo saved Shaw's first attempt but couldn't make the save off of his second stuff attempt. Brent Seabrook was also given credit for an assist on the play.
Niklas Hjalmarsson gave the Hawks an insurance goal at 6:28 of the 3rd period. The play was made by the great patience shown by Marcus Kruger, who passed the puck back to Hjammer instead of going towards the net. Niklas waited until Niemi was screened by his own defenseman, Jason Demers, and ripped a slap shot from 55 feet away. The puck screamed over Nemo's right shoulder, hit the crossbar and quickly went in and out of the net. Jamal Mayers picked up his second assist of the night on the play.
* Randy did a great write up on the Toews vs Thornton rumble last night but I need to weigh in on it as well. The whole incident was a very rare showing of stupidity and selfishness from the captain. I understand why Toews has it in for Thornton but he needs to be smarter. The original hit was a dangerous one. Had Thornton been hurt on the hit, Tazer would be facing a sure suspension. He was also very lucky to get only 9 PIMs on the play. He should have received a penalty for fighting with a visor and a game misconduct too. I not am a fan of seeing Toews, who has a history of concussions, taking punches to the head. In hindsight the play did not cost the Hawks, but it could have been much worse.
* I was also disappointed with the beat writers all jumping on the "Toews fight inspired the Hawks to victory" bandwagon. That is a bunch of crap! The Blackhawks won because they were the far superior team not because of a pointless fight from Tazer.
* Will Todd McLellan be behind the Sharks bench when they come back to Chicago next Friday?
* Before the season started, if you would have told me that Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw would have more goals than Patrick Sharp 14 games into the season I would have said the Hawks were in trouble.