For a third straight week, the Blackhawks are looking down on the rest of the National Hockey League, and although a regulation loss is inevitable, Chicago is showing lots of resemblance to the team that 3 years ago skated off the ice Stanley Cup Champions. This week they wrapped up their circus trip 4-0-2, the same trip they won 2 out of 9 on last year. Since last Monday, the ‘Hawks played against San Jose, Phoenix, and Nashville. They scored 14 goals and let in 5, thanks to Corey Crawford‘s 17-save shutout last night against the Predators.
#3: Andrew Shaw
Andrew Shaw had a shaky start to the season, but he has turned it around and his play this week earns him the 3rd Star. In San Jose, he notched the all-important 2nd goal that turned the tide of that game, where the ‘Hawks came back from 3-1 to win the game 5-3. He had a good play by parking in front of the net, and with little defensive pressure on him he made no mistake. That was definitely the most important play of the last week for him, but the prettiest came 2 days later in Phoenix, where he had a dirty little self-chip, then made a great pass to Viktor Stalberg for the 1st goal of 6 that night from Chicago. He has gone back to his gritty style of play, which showed on Sunday when he had no hesitation shedding the mitts with Richard Clune, and then scoring the takedown in the tilt. He also has figured out his role on the rush, which is being the winger that drives to the net, and he has done that with some success. Shaw is in his sophomore campaign, and he is turning into a great depth piece that can show up on the score-sheet just as much as some of the big stars in Chicago. Blackhawks fans should be very pleased with his performance lately.
#2: Viktor Stalberg
Viktor Stalberg makes his first appearance on this list after 3 games of consistent hard work, and it’s starting to pay off for the winger. He got three of his 6 points on the season in 2 games, (PHX and SJS) and there’s a feeling that another solid year is on the horizon. He got things started at the Jobing.com Arena on Thursday, burying the aforementioned pass from Andrew Shaw, which set the stage for my personal favourite play of the game: Fore-checking hard, forcing Keith Yandle (who had a terrible game) to cough up the puck. He then slid off to the side, and dished it to Bryan Bickell, who did the rest. He has been skating hard all season, and it’s great to see him finally turning up some points.
#1: Patrick “Who Else?” Kane
It’s hard to not put Kaner at the top of the heap this week, (his third straight) when he topped the entire League and took home the First Star honours for last week. He was once again a force, and the empty net seemed to be his friend, as he slammed 2 of his 5 goals into yawning cages, thanks to the out-of-position Mike Smith and Antti Niemi. He is smart enough not to go in to the scrums and he is there in the open ice, and largely in part to the brilliant teamwork of his team, specifically Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp. He just seems to have the hot stick, scoring 5 times on 12 shots in 3 games. His speed and hands have both gone to another level, and he is perfecting his passing as well, as Dave Bolland clearly demonstrated by getting some great chances off of a nice feed by Kane. He has the deceptiveness to draw two defenders on him, and leave his line mates wide open, and more often then not they seem to capitalize. He is recovering well when the ‘Hawks lose the puck and have to transition, which is something I personally always look at, (thank my coach for that.) He is playing well in the defensive zone too, and we can’t ask for a more dominant Patrick Kane right now.
Marcus Kruger: Had a wonderful couple of games, him and Shaw could really have tied for the 3rd spot.
Corey Crawford: Got Chicago’s first shutout in 101 games, still looking very solid, and is leading the league in Wins.
The ‘Hawks return home this week, and play 4 games in 7 nights starting Tuesday, when the Anaheim Ducks pay a visit to the Madhouse. Here’s to a 10-0-2 record!
LETS GO HAWKS!
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