Detroit Red Wings

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 10: The road stops in Detroit, but signals new beginning

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 10: The road stops in Detroit, but signals new beginning

In a 10-part series, we look back at the 10-year anniversary of the 2008-09 season, the start of the Blackhawks dynasty.

Playoffs, check. Western Conference quarterfinals, check. Semifinals, check.

After missing the playoffs a year ago, the Blackhawks found themselves among the final four teams standing in 2009 but were about to face their largest test yet. And it wasn't just any test. It was against the hated Detroit Red Wings, who were also the defending Stanley Cup champions. David vs. Goliath.

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews weren't even 21 yet and were going up against four future Hall of Famers in Pavel Datsyuk, Marian Hossa, Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg who were in the primes of their career. 

The Red Wings took care of home ice in Games 1 and 2, but the Blackhawks flexed their young muscles by securing Game 3 in overtime thanks to Patrick Sharp's game-winner. But it came at a cost.

Martin Havlat was the recipient of a controversial hit by Niklas Kronwall and was knocked out of the game with a head injury, though he was cleared to play two days later. The biggest gut punch came when starting goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin suffered a lower-body injury in the second period and would miss the rest of the series, with Cristobal Huet taking over from there.

Game 4 was a blowout, but turned out to be a valuable experience for Corey Crawford, who came on in relief and got his first taste of the postseason. He allowed one goal in seven shots in 15:55 of action.

And in Game 5, the Blackhawks took the Red Wings to the wire and forced overtime in large part because of a 44-save performance by Huet, but weren't able to overcome Detroit's veteran moxie.

In many ways, this was the most important learning lesson the Blackhawks could have had as a young group. It showed them what it took to win and reaffirmed that they weren't far off in their rise to championship contention.

While the road stopped in Detroit, it signaled the start of a new beginning in Blackhawks history. The start of a dynasty.

Relive the final part of our series in the video above.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks 5-1 win to Red Wings: New-look top line shines

Five takeaways from Blackhawks 5-1 win to Red Wings: New-look top line shines

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Thursday night:

1. New-look top line shines.

Joel Quenneville broke up the Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad tandem on Wednesday in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in favor of Alex DeBrincat, Anthony Duclair and Toews on the top line and the results were solid. They had the best possession numbers among all Blackhawks forwards, but weren't able to capitalize on any of their scoring chances.

Thursday was a different story.

Less than nine minutes into the game, the Blackhawks erupted for three goals — all at 5-on-5 — and that trio contributed to all of them. In fact, they were on the scoresheet for all five goals. DeBrincat netted his second career NHL hat trick and added an assist, Duclair had a goal and two assists, and Toews had an assist and a plus-4 rating.

DeBrincat became the first Blackhawks rookie to record multiple hat tricks in a season since Steve Larmer accomplished that feat in 1982-83, according to NBC Sports Chicago stat guru Chris Kamka, and youngest to do so in team history.

2. Anton Forsberg bounces back.

In his previous start, Forsberg allowed five goals on 35 shots in 41:52 of ice time before getting pulled for Jeff Glass in a 7-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday. Despite facing a ton of shots, his rebound control wasn't great and it certainly didn't help his case.

He was much better in this one, and was 3:51 away from earning his first career NHL shutout before the Red Wings scored a power-play goal in the final minutes. Forsberg finished with 23 saves to pick up his third win this month, and fifth of the season.

Credit should go all around for limiting the quality of scoring chances, something the Blackhawks have struggled to do this season. They allowed only seven high danger scoring chances at 5-on-5 and Forsberg absorbed all of them.

3. Vinnie Hinostroza provides depth scoring.

Hinostroza really clicked earlier in the month on a line with Toews and Saad but was recently moved to the bottom six as Quenneville continues to search for consistency.

He scored the game's third goal to put the Blackhawks up 3-0, and finished with seven shot attempts (three on goal), a takeaway and a blocked shot. Depth scoring is crucial for a Blackhawks team looking for scoring any way they can get it.

4. Balanced ice time.

Maybe it had something to do with the game getting out of hand quickly, but the Blackhawks had all four lines earning a fair amount of ice time against Detroit. That wasn't the case against Toronto. Jordan Oesterle led all Blackhawks skaters with 25:46 of ice time in that one and no other skater reached 22 minutes. Meanwhile, Patrick Sharp (9:24) and Ryan Hartman (9:24) each didn't reach 10 minutes. The ice time was sporadic.

Against Detroit, only Tommy Wingels (11:57) played fewer than 13 minutes. It's a great recipe for success when the rotation is flowing and everybody stays fresh.

5. Blackhawks get help from around the league.

We've reached a point where scoreboard watching is a real thing for the Blackhawks, who need help from around the league as they look to climb back into the playoff picture. And they got it Thursday heading into the All-Star break.

The Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars, all of whom are above the Blackhawks in the standings, each lost. The Los Angeles Kings were idle, and the Anaheim Ducks had a late game against the Winnipeg Jets.

That should at least help the Blackhawks sleep a little better at night during the break.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Red Wings ahead of All-Star break


Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Red Wings ahead of All-Star break

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Detroit Red Wings tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Power play snaps slump.

There are several reasons why the Blackhawks are out of the playoff picture right now, none more obvious than the lack of power play production. Entering last night's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Blackhawks were 0-for-16 in their past four games with the man advantage and 0-for-32 in their previous 10 at home.

A 2-for-4 effort in a 3-2 overtime loss still has the Blackhawks ranked 30th overall in that department with a 14.8 success rate. Perhaps they can build some confidence off of it, but it needs to improve on a consistent basis because those are either momentum-boosters or momentum-killers and for the majority of the season it's been the latter.

2. New look lines.

The Blackhawks changed up their top six against Toronto, moving Alex DeBrincat up to the top line with Jonathan Toews and Anthony Duclair and dropping Brandon Saad to the second line with Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane. Both of those lines were really good last night and they'll probably — and should be — rolled back out again vs. Detroit, but the finish again was lacking.

Both goals came on the power play in their loss to Toronto, with Schmaltz contributing to both of them with a goal and an assist for his 10th multi-point effort of the season. Can they cash in 5-on-5 this time?

3. Jeff Glass or Anton Forsberg?

For the second straight start, Glass gave the Blackhawks exactly what they needed by keeping them in each game. And for the second straight start, he didn't get rewarded. More importantly, neither did the Blackhawks.

The offense gave him no run support in a 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay on Monday in which he stopped 29 of 31 shots (.935 save percentage), and couldn't muster a 5-on-5 goal in a 3-2 overtime loss to Toronto despite Glass stopping 33 of 35 shots (.943 save percentage) in regulation before giving up a penalty shot goal six seconds into overtime.

Glass has deserved better a better outcome in both games, and with the NHL All-Star break coming up, Joel Quenneville should strongly consider going back to him on the second leg of a back-to-back. He's the goalie that gives them the best chance to pick up two points right now.