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.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks square off with Stars tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks square off with Stars tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Dallas Stars tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Scott Darling's regulation shutout streak.

Darling had two shutouts in his first 44 starts of his NHL career, and nearly matched that total in back-to-back games after he pitched a 22-save shutout over the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday and stopped 36 straight shots before allowing the 37th one to get by in a 1-0 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Friday. While his shutout streak came to an end, he still hasn't allowed a regulation goal in 124:45 minutes. The Lemont native has been terrific in Corey Crawford's absence and will look to continue that against a divisional opponent tonight.

2. Shoot from everywhere.

The Stars have allowed the most goals of any team (93) this season, giving up 3.21 goals per game. They allowed 2.78 goals per game last year, which was the highest among all 16 playoff teams. Their defense has gotten worse, and their offense has dipped to 18th at 2.55 goals per game after finishing No. 1 in that category a year ago at 3.23. Shoot from any angle and it may find a way to sneak in.

3. Redemption on the power play.

In the first two meetings, which resulted in Chicago wins, the Blackhawks had 10 power-play opportunities but cashed in on only one of those. The Stars are coming off a game where they allowed three goals on the man advantage in a 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers yesterday and have a penalty kill percentage that ranks fourth-worst at 76.7. They've also given up at least a power-play goal in seven of their last 10 games. It's a vulnerable area for them right now — and has been all year — so it's important the Blackhawks keep pressing.

4. Questionable statuses for several Stars.

After missing 23 games with an undisclosed illness, Jiri Hudler was activated off injured reserve on Friday but did not play in yesterday's game against the Flyers despite coach Lindy Ruff saying he was available. He could draw back into the lineup tonight, although it's not certain. Same with Johnny Oduya, who has been sidelined for the last three weeks with a lower-body injury. Jamie Oleksiak will also have a hearing today for an illegal check to the head on a Flyers forward yesterday, making his status for tonight questionable. Former Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp, who missed the first two games against his former team with a concussion, is experiencing those symptoms again and remains out of the lineup.

5. Take a lead into the third.

The Blackhawks are 11-0-0 when leading after two periods this season, and are one of just five teams to have a perfect winning percentage in that category. The Stars, on the other hand, are one of five teams that have yet to pick up a win when trailing after two. They're 0-10-2 in that department. Taking advantage of the Stars on the second of a back-to-back early could make putting them away easier if the Blackhawks head into the final frame with a lead.

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Bill Dineen, father of Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen, passes away

Bill Dineen, father of Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen, passes away

Bill Dineen, former AHL and NHL coach and father of Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen, passed away on Saturday morning. He was 84.

Kevin Dineen was not at the Blackhawks’ practice on Saturday. Coach Joel Quenneville called Bill Dineen “a tremendous man.”

“Everyone who had the privilege to meet Bill and be around him loved the guy. He was probably one of the most liked people you’d ever want to meet. Great family man; the kids are just like the dad,” Quenneville said following Saturday’s practice. “We had a good time with him on the dad’s trip last time. Seeing him at that stage and being around hockey again, it was fun to be there.”

Bill Dineen played for the Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings. He later was a head coach, mostly in the AHL. He was named the AHL’s outstanding coach twice and led the Adirondack Red Wings to the Calder Cup in 1986 and 1989. He also had an NHL coaching stint with the Philadelphia Flyers from 1992 to 1993, during which he coached Kevin.

AHL president David Andrews released a statement regarding Dineen’s passing.

“During his time as a player and coach, and in the values he instilled in his family, Bill Dineen created a legacy of greatness in the American Hockey League that still resonates today. Our deepest condolences go out to the entire Dineen family at this time.”