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Starry Starry Night (Sort of): Blackhawks 5 @ Stars 2 Recap

April 7, 2010

First off, apologies for the late recap, but I spent most of last night trying to figure out how to make this:

I didn’t realize it would take so long, but now that it’s done I can move on.

Last night was another one of those feel-good wins. The Hawks came storming out of the gate looking, for all intents and purposes, like the team that we saw mid-season. They generated so much pressure that even the most biased of Dallas scorekeepers (Hits 24-8 to Stars? Really?) could only appropriate the Stars with 5 shots on goal in the first, a period that also saw Marian Hossa and Colin Fraser sandwich with goals in the first and last minutes of the 20-minute frame.

The Blackhawks let up a little in the 2nd, and they’ll need to be careful with that, because against playoff-caliber competition that lax attitude would be an opportunity ripe for the taking. The Hawks took a couple of consecutive and lazy penalties– 2 for Delay of Game, and another for Too Many Men– that gave them a shorthanded goal by Jonathan Toews but also cost them a Stars goal by Steve Ott.

The third period was a little bit of a return back to more even play, with Fraser tallying his second goal of the night (doncha know, the fourth line only scores in pairs) and Kane finishing off a beautiful drop pass from Burish that had everybody laughing. James Neal scored at the 12:45 mark but without the shutout to play for, a 3-goal lead, and with play still dominated by the Blackhawks, nobody really cared. The buzzer sounded and the Hawks flew out of Dallas tying franchise records in road wins (22), points (107), and a new franchise record of 50 wins. Boo yeah.

A Review

Yesterday I put up a list of three things that I’d like the Blackhawks to improve on. Let’s just say my list doesn’t change for tonight’s tilt because the Hawks went 0-for-3 in meeting my demands requests.

  1. I can has power play goal? The Hawks didn’t convert on any of their power play opportunities, but I can’t give them too much grief for it since they only had two. The second one looked out of sorts, but we’ll keep plodding until something clicks, right boys? I hate to be all “but this happened last year” since other than identifying a pattern (which isn’t even a pattern until it happens often enough) there really is no way to rationalize it, but March was bad last year too and now April’s picking up as well, so let me point you to last year’s regular season PP conversion rate of 19.3% and their postseason PP conversion rate of 27.9%. I don’t know, maybe the Hawks just need a little extra motivation.
  2. Tighter defense? The first period was decent, but the second one was the story of turnovers galore. As has been noted in some places, Byfuglien is becoming a little more adventurous and just giving pucks away willy-nilly or something. A first-round match-up against the Red Wings would worry me here because I don’t doubt for a second that they would jump on little mistakes like that. For now, we’ve got to be glad Niemi’s playing the way he is.
  3. Fewer rebounds? Even if he’s still giving up good rebounds. Forgivable for now, given how amazing his play has been–did you see how he outright robbed the Stars of an easy tip-in to an open net by just sliding there and stopping the puck right at the door?

Playoff Watch Updates

  • With last night’s loss to the Sharks and the Avs’ shootout win over the Canucks, the Flames are officially out of the playoff picture. All the Western Conference needs to figure out now is the seeding.
  • Tonight the Blackhawks play their game in hand against the Blues. If the Hawks win it all in the next three games, then 1st seed is ours. We’ve at least locked up 2nd seed, so we’ll be up against whoever is 7th or 8th.
  • Vancouver is stuck in 3rd seed. Must be nice to have a little bit of security.
  • Phoenix can go anywhere from 4th to 6th seed, so we’ll at least not see them in the first round. Sigh of relief for all.
  • Nashville and Los Angeles can go anywhere from 4th to 8th seed.
  • Colorado and Detroit will definitely be facing a top 4 seed–they’re stuck in the bottom half of the seedings. Interestingly enough, the Blackhawks close out their season against both these teams.
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