The Chicago Blackhawks really are an enigma at this point in the year.
There really is a lot to be happy about with this team, and there's a reason that so many have them pegged as a Stanley Cup contender once again, at least on paper. Nobody here is disputing that. But the mad scientist behind the Blackhawks' bench, in Joel Quenneville, has been more 'mad' than 'scientist' to this point, and you do have to wonder how far this inconsistency that the Blackhawks have demonstrated will continue to carry on. It's not even necessarily from game to game, but as simple as period to period. We'll take a longer look at that another day.
Oh hey, the Blackhawks actually won this one, despite my incessant whining. It may not have felt like it at times, but Patrick Sharp's shootout goal helped the Hawks to scratch out a win for the second time against the Ottawa Senators this year. Scott Darling was a bit shaky throughout, but was strong in the shootout. The backup status is still up in the air as a result. But on to our actual purpose here. Tonight's three stars are all forwards and spent a large chunk of the night skating with each other on a first line that I really dig.
3. Kris Versteeg
Even if the rest of his game was completely worthless, Kris Versteeg's goal in the first period would have been enough to earn him a spot in the top three. In addition to that goal, though, Versteeg had a very solid night as he continues to get up to form after starting the season out with an injury. He scored the goal below to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead and assisted on Marian Hossa's third period goal that made it 4-3 in favor of the road club. He was third among forwards with a 62.5 Corsi%, behind only Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. His improvement is evident, both from last year and from his first couple of games this year, like it or not.
2. Jonathan Toews
Another night, another game where Jonathan Toews leads the Blackhawks in Corsi%. His percentage was up over 66 percent for the night, good for a 23 percent relative Corsi. His most important contribution was obviously his pair of goals, one of which helped the Hawks to tie things up in the third period, when he tapped in a puck that had already trickled behind Craig Anderson. He also won 64 percent of his draws on the night. The Captain has found his groove after a slow start. Watch out.
1. Marian Hossa
I'm sure we could spend days or weeks or months talking about the glory that is ol' number 81. Hossa is simply a magical player who does so many things so well out on the ice, and he does so many of them in the most subtle of ways. Nonetheless, Hossa took centerstage for the Hawks as he returned to the site where his career started, with the Sens. "What better setting for his 1,000th point?", was the thinking of everyone affiliated with this team, both inside and out of the organization.
And that's exactly what happened. The Big Hoss needed a pair of points to become the 80th player to reach 1K for his career., and he got both. His first came on Jonathan Toews' first period goal, which he assisted on, before he netted his own in the third to give the Hawks the 4-3 lead and notch a bit of history for himself. Here's his tally in the third, and Pat Foley sounding like a damn savage calling it.
Randy Holt is a staff writer for Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.