The Blackhawks entered the final week of the 2013 season on a two-game losing streak, after playing what most think was their worst effort of the year against Vancouver. However, the Hawks got back to their winning ways on Wednesday in Edmonton, and clinched the President’s Trophy for the first time since 1991. Here are the week’s Three Stars.
#3: Brent Seabrook
One positive thing that the Blackhawks could take from the OT loss against the Coyotes was that the power-play finally looked to be waking up. The puck was being moved to the open man, without forcing a play and turning the puck over. When the puck got to the defense on the point, heavy shots were taken with traffic in front, and these resulted in goals. Both of these goals were off the stick of Brent Seabrook. Utilizing his size for a reason other than shutting down defensively was the reason that ‘Seabs’ takes the #3 spot this week. The new pairing with Johnny Oduya was rock-solid this week, as Seabrook was +- even in the last 4 contests. On the power-play, the point a bigger presence, and that was effective in getting shots through. Seabrook has played solid all year, and looks to continue that into the post-season. Will he return to a line with Duncan Keith and form the 2010 Olympic/Stanley Cup Champion pair? Time will tell. Either way, expect to see solid hockey from #7.
#2: Patrick Kane
Patrick Kane lands in the #2 spot after a strong outing in Edmonton that capped a week with three 2-point outings in four games. Kane was especially memorable in the third on Wednesday, where he had a flurry of chances in one shift, and he looked as dominant in that period as he has all year. Kane has done away with the turnovers, and seems to make the right play whenever the puck is on his stick. In situations where there were two, even three, defenders on him, he still kept the puck in his possesion, or put it in a safe zone where the defenders would have to retrieve it. Kane is the ultimate offensive weapon that every team would love to have in their toolbox for the playoffs. It will be interesting to see his effort come this time next week.
#1: Michal Handzus
It was a big week for the newest Blackhawk, as he notched his first goal (this season, anyway) for his new team, and capped off the week with a marvellous three-assist effort against the Oilers. In a game where the Blackhawks dominated, spending most of their time with the puck and in the offensive zone, Handzus was the man that was really standing out, and the rest of the team tried to give him the puck, because he was the guy that was going to get the job done. He also had a great game at the faceoff dot, winning nearly 70% of all draws he took. This is why Stan Bowman brought Handzus in at the trade deadline. If solid play continues from him, he could be the real steal on deadline day.
Duncan Keith: Great game against Nashville, where he took first star honors. Wasn’t as noticeable as Seabrook, but solid throughout the week.
Drew LeBlanc: Wasn’t a contributor, but hats off to the kid, who came in and played tough with the big boys in his first career game. He had Hawks fans almost certain he was going to bury one after a couple of brilliant shifts alongside Kane in the third in Edmonton.
Well, this is it. Nothing to fight for, the Hawks look to go out on a winning note, and roll right in to the playoffs. Before that happens, they face the Flames, broadcast nationally, and on CSN. Puck drop is at 7:30. LETS GO HAWKS!
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