Blackhawks

Dominate, win, repeat: Hawks stars must stay hot

Dominate, win, repeat: Hawks stars must stay hot

Friday, April 22, 2011
Posted: 9:21 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Jonathan Toews was rolling off teammates names that broke through their scoring silence in Game 5, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa among them.

Ive got to feel like theyre coming for me as well, he said with a smile. Im just waiting for the right moment here.

Indeed, the Blackhawks top guns couldnt have picked a better time to get going; and the ones who havent quite revved it up seem to be inching their foot toward the gas pedal.

We always hear it, especially at this time of the season: a teams best players have to perform as such. In Game 5, the Blackhawks best were just that. Kane was deflecting a Duncan Keith shot for his first goal of the postseason.

WATCH: Luongo shaves playoff beard

Hossa was teeing it up from the ladies tees, as Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault put it, for his first goal of these playoffs and driving goaltender Roberto Luongo from the game with his second.

It was Keith putting up career numbers in honor of fallen partner Brent Seabrook and Toews doing everything but scoring. The captain joked about his inability to put the puck in the net thus far this postseason, but even the casual Game 5 observer can see hes close. Save a collar hook by Daniel Sedin, Toews probably does get his first Thursday night.

It was an across-the-board performance on a night when the Blackhawks needed it. They seized control early. And while they quickly had a multi-goal lead they played throughout like a team trying to gain separation in a one-goal affair: relentless, cohesive and determined.

Now the Blackhawks need a repeat in Game 6. Their confidence is building and their stars postseason games are budding. Theyve outscored Vancouver 12-2 in these last two games. The Canucks say theyre still in control, and according to the best-of-seven tote board, they are, 3-2. But their grip is slipping. And considering they had the golden chance to eliminate the Blackhawks in front of their home fans, their Game 5 performance was perplexing.

Brian Campbell spelled it out before the Blackhawks flew to Vancouver for Game 5 on Wednesday. Maybe if you win the next one you feel stronger about yourselves. At that time the Canucks were up 3-1 and this wasnt a series yet.

Thanks to the Blackhawks best playing their best, it is now.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return to action against Islanders

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return to action against Islanders

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the New York Islanders tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Erik Gustafsson's season debut.

The Blackhawks recalled one of their top defensive prospects on Jan. 9 but haven't been able to get him some game action yet. All signs point to that changing tonight.

He skated on a pairing with Brent Seabrook during Friday's practice, and was even placed on the second power play unit during special teams drills. Joel Quenneville was excited about the possibility of finally getting Gustafsson into the lineup.

"Good option, good opportunity," Quenneville said. "We’re not for sure but certainly he’s been around, he’s eager to go. I look forward to seeing what he can do."

2. Anthony Duclair's promotion.

He hasn't been in Chicago for very long but Duclair is quickly working his way up the lineup. The newly-acquired Blackhawk registered an assist in his team debut last Friday in a 2-1 victory over Winnipeg, and was put on a power play unit as well.

On Friday, Duclair was promoted to the top line with Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews and continued getting reps on the second power-play unit. Let's see if the 22-year-old can take advantage of that opportunity in a top-six role.

3. Mathew Barzal.

Three rookies will be named finalists for the Calder Trophy at the end of the season. Barzal is a lock to be one of them.

He not only leads all rookies with 48 points, but he ranks 15th in the entire league in the scoring race and is the only first-year player averaging at least a point per game. 

The 20-year-old center has been sensational and he already has two five-point games in his young professional career. To put that into perspective, Patrick Kane recorded his first NHL five-point effort two weeks ago against the Ottawa Senators.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are Blackhawks a playoff team even with Corey Crawford?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are Blackhawks a playoff team even with Corey Crawford?

Seth Gruen and US99’s Stylz & Roman join Luke Stuckmeyer on the panel.  Joel Quenneville says he expects and hopes Corey Crawford can return this season?  Will he come back?  And are they a playoff team even if Crawford returns?

Plus the Bulls extend Zach LaVine’s minutes, a preview of Sunday’s championship game and will Jake Arrieta eventually end up back with the Cubs?