DALLAS – Some may want to wince when you say a hockey team is tired.
The Blackhawks needed rest heading into the All-Star break. They were clearly gassed, as evidenced by how they lost some of those pre-break games (please see the 4-0 and 5-0 losses to Florida and Carolina, respectively). The question was: how would they come out of that respite?
So far, they’ve come out of it very well.
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
That was evident again on Saturday night when the Blackhawks steamrolled the Dallas Stars 5-1. They widened their Central Division lead – five points over the Stars now – and showed that those couple days off were very valuable.
So before we head home, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Dallas.
1. Artem Anisimov has a stellar night. Folks may still lament the loss of Brandon Saad but there’s no arguing the Blackhawks solved their immediate need for a second-line center in that deal. Anisimov has been great throughout this season, including Saturday night when he had a four-point night (goal, three assists). That included his third shorthanded goal of the season. Be it the second line or special teams, Anisimov has been a great addition.
2. Corey Crawford is pretty good again, too. Crawford’s game was fine in the first period but it was better in the second, when the Blackhawks needed him to be. The Stars were surging and had five shots on goal on a power play early in that period. Crawford stopped those, as well as the other 18 shots the Stars had during the second. The Blackhawks thanked him with two late second-period goals for a 5-1 lead after 40 minutes.
3. Active defensemen. They’ve certainly been on the score sheet a bunch lately. Trevor van Riemsdyk had a 4-on-4 goal – the second defenseman to have a 4-on-4 goal in as many games (Michal Rozsival vs. Arizona) – and Brent Seabrook had a power-play goal, Niklas Hjalmarsson had two assists and Duncan Keith had one. It’s never bad when the guys on the blue line are more involved in the offense.
4. Marian Hossa gets closer to 500 goals. Jonathan Toews had the fancy work on the Blackhawks’ penalty kill, passing the puck to himself through Alex Goligoski’s legs. But when Antti Niemi stopped Toews, Hossa was there to finish the short-handed goal for the 496th goal of his career. It was Hossa’s second goal in as many games. Could he be heading on a streak? If so, No. 500 will be coming very soon.
5. Speaking of Toews… He recorded his 300th career assist on Hossa’s goal. As far as All-Star break rests go, nobody needed it more than Toews, who was fighting an illness going into last weekend. It cost him the game against Colorado – he was suspended that game for missing All-Star festivities – but who cares? The captain is healthy again, and it shows.