Another encouraging aspect that’s beginning to emerge from this unbelievable Blackhawks start is not just the timing of their goals, as Tracey Myers wrote about on Tuesday, but the way they’re scoring them.
With 13 of their 19 games being decided by one goal, check out where many of those difference-making tallies have come from – especially in these last two games. It proves the Hawks are not simply relying on their sniping capabilities. It’s a rut they’d occasionally fall into over the last couple of seasons, and combined with their power play difficulties of a year ago it led the way to some unwelcome droughts.
Sure, the fancy passing to a weak-side slap shot or wrister is a joy to watch, pause, rewind, and replay in slow motion. But that’s not always going to win games for you. Sometimes you have to roll up the sleeves and potentially pay a physical price.
[HIGHLIGHTS: Blackhawks beat Edmonton in thrilling fashion]
Sunday night against Columbus, yeah, Bryan Bickell’s backhand pass from the corner boards was pretty. But it was prettier with Andrew Shaw charging right towards the net to beat Steve Mason for the game’s lone goal. One night later, Patrick Kane pulled off some moves while heading to the doorstep through heavy traffic. Viktor Stalberg crashed the crease to slide a loose puck under Nikolai Khabibulin’s pads. And on the overtime winner, Patrick Sharp darted straight towards the Oilers goalie and, while denied, Marian Hossa followed suit and was there to backhand the puck in for the Chelsea “Dagger.”
Earlier in the home stand, Hossa carried the puck right towards Roberto Luongo for a goal. Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews scored inside one circle and inside the blue paint versus the Kings. Dave Bolland, Marcus Kruger and Shaw didn’t fear charging the net in the first win over the Sharks.
[HIGHLIGHTS: Hawks get scrappy to beat Sharks]
The Hawks’ confidence has no doubt grown through this start, and maybe that adds to a fearlessness that’s required to get the dirty work done. While they still may lose some of physical numbers that are totaled up on the stat sheet, their willingness to pay the price in attacking the net, not to mention better shot-blocking in protecting their own, has provided the definition of a toughness this team really needs.
It’ll get tested on the road Thursday against a St. Louis team that feeds off physical play.