Chicago Blackhawks: 3 takeaways against the Dallas Stars

Malcolm Subban #30, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Malcolm Subban #30, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /

In their first meeting of the season, the Chicago Blackhawks took on the Dallas Stars in a matinee game on Sunday, February 7.

This game was the kind of game that was likely to have the same feel as playing against Tampa Bay, meaning lopsided in favor of the team wasn’t Chicago. Despite having lost in the Stanley Cup Final to the Lightning, the Stars 5-2-1 start to the season coming into Sunday’s game shows they didn’t lose their touch during the off-season. Chicago came into this game with a big win against Carolina, another great team, and they came ready to play.

First takeaway: Subban’s play in net

Lankinen has been the talk of the town since he first stepped into the net, but Malcolm Subban stepped into the crease and held down the fort for the Chicago Blackhawks against a great team. Tonight was only his third start, but he was solid. He kept his team in it the whole 60 minutes.

Despite giving up some questionable rebounds, he made some absolutely fantastic saves.

Especially this one in particular, he bailed out his team after Patrick Kane gave up an awful turnover that gave Dallas’ Denis Gurianov a breakaway.

Subban stopped 28/29 shots he faced in regulation, and a lot of those, too many, in fact, were good chances.  The lone goal that did go in was something he probably should have stopped cleanly, but the rebound took a goofy bounce and went off the hip of Dallas’ Jason Robertson.

A tough goal, but a great performance that was rewarded with a win. The goalie competition continues to be quite a show, and Chicago is benefitting from the excellent play.

Second takeaway: Chicago continues to hold their own against all competition

Dallas is not a great team, they are an excellent team, and Chicago grounded out an overtime win against them. It was Chicago’s first road win of the season and a really impressive outing overall. Dallas lost to an incredible opponent in the Stanley Cup Final, but they have fantastic players throughout their lineup.

That’s the thing though, at no point did Chicago ever really look outgunned. It took a team effort and some timely goaltending, but Chicago managed to stay with the Stars for pretty much the whole 60 minutes. Well, maybe not the second period, but definitely in the first and third periods.

This team has managed to be a real surprise, and the last few games have maybe started to raise doubts about the poor performances in the first few games. Yes, Tampa Bay is a really, really good team, but maybe Chicago just wasn’t all there yet. The short camp, the lack of a pre-season, and all the new faces maybe caused a lot of problems early on.

Ever since that trip to Florida, Chicago has looked like a completely different team. They’re in every game, even if they lose. It doesn’t matter how good the competition is, Chicago is right there with their opponents. It’s been something to witness game after game.

Even when the team is losing, Chicago has been fun to watch. They have won two in a row against quality opponents, and even if the odds are stacked against them the Blackhawks aren’t just collecting paychecks this year. The team shows up and is ready to play no matter what.

Third takeaway: Special teams made the difference

There were points during the game where Chicago was simply the better team, especially in the third period.  Then the ice would tilt in the other direction and Dallas would sustain pressure against the ‘Hawks. As has been the case in many games, Chicago scored in regulation on a power-play. Unfortunately, Dallas scored their one only seconds after one of their own plays expired.

The two teams basically managed to play each to a standstill for most of the game and everything was surprisingly even. This is a double-edged sword though, especially for Chicago. At some point, they won’t be able to rely on a smoking hot powerplay to get themselves on the scoresheet. The penalty kill has been strong as well, but the team is so thin that they just don’t have much room for error.

As long as the special teams stay strong, Chicago will be in every game and have a legitimate chance to win. If at any point the penalty kill or powerplay begins to falter, Chicago is going to be in trouble.  If this team is going to be truly competitive, then they will need to find a way to dominate play at even-strength instead of relying on the man advantage to pull ahead in games.

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Once again though, they’ve managed to surprise everyone. Chicago has won two in a row, took a road win from a great team, and successfully pulled out a victory in extra time. Dallas and Chicago will face off again on Tuesday, and hopefully, it’s another great game.