The struggling Chicago Blackhawks entered into Wednesday night’s tilt with the Pittsburgh Penguins with a stressful eight-game losing streak. They decided to take matters into their own hands to finally win a game.
The despair of a losing season has generated a lot of thoughts about this struggling team. Here are just five thoughts about the Chicago Blackhawks’ 6-3 victory over the Penguins.
1 – First and Foremost
The Chicago Blackhawks came out with an uncharacteristically strong start in the first period. They were covering plays in their own zone with better structure and actually created some legitimate offensive zone time. Playing against a team that rivals their own championship history had to be a motivating factor in their reborn intensity. They appeared to finally understand that the hockey world was calling them out for their uninspired play. The ‘Hawks actually finished the opening period with a 2-1 lead while playing even with the Pens in shots on goal.
2 – Dylan Sikura and Carl Dahlstrom are back.
The much-anticipated return of Dylan Sikura was not very eventful. In 9:33 of ice time, he had 1 shot on goal, 2 takeaways, and was a minus-1 for the night. His play with linemates David Kampf and Brendan Perlini was not memorable in any way.
Carl Dahlstrom actually had the better game of the two. With a heavy 22:34 of ice time, he was effective in pushing zone entries into the boards and played within himself. He didn’t overplay and made smart clearing plays. Shoring up the back end was quietly a key to the improved offensive effort overall. He was a solid contributor and deserves to stay in the lineup.
3 – OK, we have to recognize the hat trick by Bryan Rust.
The Penguins forward had scored just 1 goal and 6 assists in 29 games. These things just seem to happen to the ‘Hawks this year. Rust’s 3 goal performance was the entire scoring effort on the part of the Pens. Back to ‘Hawks talk.
4 – Meat and potatoes
The Blackhawks’ 4th line of Andreas Martinsen, Marcus Kruger, and John Hayden accounted for the opening goal and winning goal. The line’s relentless play was inspiring and set the tone for the game. Martinsen’s goal was the result of a Dahlstrom shot deflecting off his chest and into the net. It doesn’t get much greasier than this:
And then the grinder line set up a beautiful bang-bang play on a perfect pass from Martinsen to Kruger right in front of the crease. Behold:
Martinsen’s inspired play earned him First Star’s honors. Crazy.
5 – The monkey is off their backs
NBCSN’s Patrick Sharp called the Blackhawks’ previously lackadaisical play “some sort of sick joke”. The eight-game losing streak was obviously weighing heavily on the team. When the final horn sounded, you could feel a collective sigh of relief as the players celebrated the win with wide smiles. It was a single win, but probably the most important win of the season. Frustration and anger will eat at a team and can tear some apart. In a life lesson, we learn who and what we are in how we handle adversity. Let’s hope this win allows the ‘Hawks to learn to start playing for 60 minutes consistently.
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Next…a rematch with the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center Friday night. The ‘Hawks have a chance to avenge 2 recent losses to that “manly” team. Onward.