Sunday, March 5, 2011
Posted: 10:40 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
TORONTO Goaltender Corey Crawford wasnt tremendously busy at the start of the Blackhawks victory over Toronto on Saturday. So he must have enjoyed watching the scoring show at the other end.
Our guys, its incredible the way were scoring goals, said Crawford, who like any goaltender appreciates the big number on his teams side of the scoreboard. Obviously our top lines been unbelievable, probably one of the best in the league. But the other lines are smart and making the right plays.
It wasnt that long ago the Blackhawks offensive game was buoyed by three guys: No. 1-liners Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. More than a week ago, Toews said that the trio was feeling the pressure to score. It didnt help that the line Nos. 2, 3 and 4 were pretty quiet. They were not coming up with the big goals, not giving their opponents much reason to be very wary of them.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the current eight-game winning streak: the other lines started picking up the slack.
The Blackhawks are reveling in their offensive balance right now, getting scoring from every line and in every situation. In five games of this eight-game surge, the Blackhawks have scored four or more goals.
Chemistry helps. Enjoying a relatively healthy run right now, the Blackhawks have been able to commit to and stick with their line combinations. Players are attuned to what each other is doing, and its shown.
Of course the Blackhawks top line has continued to do its top-line duty, scoring in bunches and often doing so in top-line style. As Viktor Stalberg quipped after the Blackhawks latest victory, Toews, Kane and Sharp have had a couple of Harlem Globetrotter goals out there.
But others are following suit. Marian Hossa has retuned to his Hossa-like ways, garnering six goals and five assists in his last seven games. Linemates Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland have two goals and two assists each in their last three games.
Michael Frolik has led the third-line charge. Working hard but point-less in his first nine games since the Blackhawks acquired him from Florida, now has two goals and two assists in his last three contests. Fourth-liners Ryan Johnson and Stalberg have supplied the game-winners in the Blackhawks last two games.
Our line as a group worked well (Saturday) tonight. We kept getting in there, getting the puck, said Stalberg, who deflected Tomas Kopeckys shot for his 10th of the season. Weve got four lines rolling right now. Were spreading the ice out a little better.
Speading the ice out, spreading the scoring around, its all led to the recent run of success. The Blackhawks have been opportunistic, feeding off each other and making the opposition pay for mistakes.
The Blackhawks are a confident group right now, from their goaltender to their defensemen to their forward lines. Yes, theyve still had a few of those nail-biting third periods but their balanced scoring attack has them winning those games now instead of squandering them.
The Blackhawks scoring show is back. And its top three stars are joined by a strong supporting cast.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.