NHL Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks Game Review: January 19-26

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Chicago Blackhawks: Week One

Blackhawks
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

With only four days of training camp and no formal preseason, the Chicago Blackhawks stormed into the abbreviated 2013 season with a chip on their collective shoulder. Their mission, aside from making the playoffs and ultimately winning the Stanley Cup: to do better than last season.

That seemed like a daunting task, with shaky goaltending, a lagging defense and special teams units that seemed to be asleep on the job. Add to that the terrible hit suffered by Marian Hossa, and the team’s morale seemed as low as their effectiveness on the power play. But the extended off-season gave the team time to regroup and recover, and a few even took to the European leagues to get in game shape.

The season started in California, where they ruined the banner raising for the Los Angeles Kings by beating them 5-2. If that wasn’t a sign that banner raising ceremonies are a ticket to defeat, they dispatched the Phoenix Coyotes 6-4 after they raised their Pacific Division championship banner. It was also the first meeting of the two teams since the playoffs and Hossa’s hit, and he showed them that they couldn’t keep him down.

Next was their home opener against the St. Louis Blues, and the United Center rolled out the red carpet for the team and rocked with their 3-2 win. It was back on the road to Texas, where Kari Lehtonen was a formidable opponent, but the Hawks still managed to beat the Dallas Stars with a stunning 3-2 overtime win. And on Saturday night, they faced the Columbus Blue Jackets in a hard-fought 3-2 win that included a questionable no-goal call against the Blue Jackets.

It was a fast paced first week for the Blackhawks, so take a moment to see some of the highlights of the week that was. So far, everything’s clicked for the Blackhawks, and they’re poised to have their best season start in franchise history. Can they make it? Fans certainly hope so.

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Kane Gets There First

Kane
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Kings had their banner ceremony before their game with the Blackhawks, and that became some powerful motivation. In the first period, Patrick Kane shot the puck from almost the same angle as he had to win the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, and his goal was the very first of the NHL season.

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Young Guns Unleashed

Kruger
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Kruger had been in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs during the lockout, and his performance there assured him a place on the Blackhawks’ roster. In the first period, he picked the puck after the Kings missed their mark and handed it off to Michael Frolik, who rifled it past Quick.

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Toews Makes It Four

Toews
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Toews scored to make it 4-0 at the start of the second period, stuffing a shot behind Jonathan Quick after Kane’s breakaway shot had failed. That ensured that the happy atmosphere the Kings’ Cup banner raising had created was gone.

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Hoss is Boss in Phoenix

hossa
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Marian Hossa had something to prove to the Coyotes, namely that the infamous hit from Raffi Torres couldn’t stop him. That came in the form of his goal that tied the game in the first period and the game-winning goal in the third.

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Sharpshooter Strikes

sharp
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Sharp put the Blackhawks on the board and tied the game in the first period after taking a pass from Dave Bolland. He sank it in the far top corner, where your mama hides the Nutella.

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Oooh, On the Dave Bolland Tip (In)

bolland
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Smith was becoming frustrated with the Blackhawks on Sunday. The final insult came in the third period when Smith seemingly stopped Dave Bolland's shot that came from a Patrick Sharp feed, only to have it tip up and fall behind him.

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Roll Out the Red Carpet

red carpet
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s an annual event for the team and fans: the home opener includes a red carpet arrival that’s truthfully much better than the Oscars. This year, temperatures near 0 degrees Fahrenheit brought the festivities indoors, but that didn’t make it any less special.

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First Goal at United Center

Kane
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

How do you top scoring the first goal of the season? If you’re Patrick Kane, you score the Blackhawks’ first home goal on a 3-on-0 play. He later said that he’d tried something similar in Switzerland with no success.

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Props to Crawford

crawford
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Yeah, it was strong special units and an impressive scoring core that helped the Blackhawks win their home opener, but Corey Crawford stopped 32 of 34 shots against the Blues as well.

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Kari “Brick Wall” Lehtonen

lehtonen
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen proved to be the bane of the Blackhawks’ game on Thursday, stopping shots right and left and robbing several guys of prime goal chances. He did let in three goals, but they were won the hard way.

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Duncan Keith Saves the Day

duncs
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

With seconds to go in the second period, it looked like Crawford was about to give the Stars a sure goal when Duncan Keith showed why he’s a past Norris Trophy winner, racing to the crease and whisking the puck away from the goal line.

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Hossa to the Rescue

hossa
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The score at the end of regulation was tied at two points each. Patrick Kane, criticized last season for holding on to the puck too much, did just that before turning and passing behind his back to Marian Hossa, who lasered a shot over Lehtonen’s shoulder for the 3-2 overtime win.

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Bolland Gets It Done

bolland
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

In the first period of Saturday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Patrick Kane picked off Adrian Aucoin and rushed to the net only to be tripped in the crease. No worries, Dave Bolland took the puck and tipped it in to tie the game.

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Crow Says No

crawford
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the two Blue Jackets goals, Crawford stopped a lot of shots on Saturday, increasing his stats to a 1.99 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in four games. His confidence, which was shaky last season, is definitely steadier.

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Toews Seals the Deal

Toews
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

After a questionable no-goal call and a goal that tied the game, Jonathan Toews deked Steve Mason three times before sinking the puck behind him for what would become the game-winning goal.