Saturday, December 31, 2011

Blackhawks: line readings

Posted By on 12.31.11 at 01:00 PM

Jonathan Toews
  • Jonathan Toews
"I like that line," coach Joel Quenneville said about the grouping of captain Jonathan Toews with wingers Marian Hossa and Daniel Carcillo. It might have been the understatement of the night as the Blackhawks trimmed the archrival Detroit Red Wings 3-2 Friday at the United Center before a season-high 22,166 fans. Toews and Hossa are tenacious forecheckers, and Carcillo brings the body blows to form a group that's effective at both ends of the ice.

They started the game against the top Detroit line of Pavel Dtsyuk, Johan Franzen, and Todd Bertuzzi, and it didn't take Carcillo long to deliver a crunching hit to Bertuzzi, who got up dropping the gloves.

Yet they won the game on offense. Toews scored in the first period on a penalty shot after Niklas Hjalmarsson had given him a breakaway moments earlier with a lovely two-line pass (sadly missing from this highlight; as a smiling Hjalmarsson said afterward, "It would be fun if Taze had scored on the first one there, but he got the second try there, so I don't really care about it").

Hossa tied the game at two in the second period when he scooted around the defense to blast an open slapshot by Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard. They should've had another goal later, after Carcillo flipped the puck down the left wing to draw the defense, then delivered a trailing pass to Toews, who quickly swung it right to Hossa, whose shot at an open net was blocked by the Red Wings' ever-capable defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom.

So it was left to Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook to win the game with a whiplash slapshot from the deep slot off a perfect mattress pass by Patrick Kane. "It was just a great pass by Kaner," Seabrook said afterward. "He ripped it. He made a nice, flat pass."

"Hose had a monster game," Quenneville said, "as Jonny did, and Danny came back - heck of a game as well." It was Carcillo's first game after missing six straight following a fight in Minnesota.

Look for even the ever-shifting Quenneville to keep that line intact for a while—and go back to it whenever he needs an all-purpose shift.

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