The Chicago Blackhawks have been road warriors all season long. Saturday night's 8-1 spanking of the Stars in Big D assured at least a .500 road trip and showcased the league's best team in front of yet another club's home crowd.
The Stars' net was open for just about anybody, with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa both notching a pair of goals in the first 40 minutes of action. Four different Blackhawks (Nick Leddy, Toews, Bryan Bickell and Patrick Kane) had three-point nights.
What follows are a few random thoughts on the first half of the four-game jaunt, which also included a 2-1 shootout win in Columbus Friday night:
Corey Crawford bounced back with two solid games against the Blue Jackets and Stars. He did not allow an even-strenghth goal in 125 minutes of hockey, and overall, he stopped 47 of 49 shots. Should Crawford get the net in the last two games of this trip? I respond with an emphatic "yes."
It wouldn't surprise me to see coach Joel Quenneville start Ray Emery Monday or Wednesday. As I've said several times, if Crow is your starter, he needs to get some stretches where Emery's butt is glued to the bench.
Brandon Bollig didn't make a dent in the scoring column in either game but played pretty well in his fourth-line role. He generated four shots on goal Thursday night and saw a season-high 9:51 of ice time in Dallas. Quenneville used him on the power play Saturday night, for goodness sake.
Johnny Oduya had goals in both contests, including Chiacgo's lone goal in regulation against Columbus. He's really shut up a lot of the naysayers, myself included, who insisted that GM Stan Bowman paid too much to keep him in town last summer. I could go on here, but Oduya really deserves a post of his own. It's coming.
Speaking of 'Hawks defensemen, Steve Montador played in back-to-back games in Rockford in a 4-3 win over the Chicago Wolves and a 4-0 loss to Peoria. Good to see him back in action. Rust was evident, but that's no surprise with the long layoff he has endured.
Kaner unleashed yet another variation of the spin-o-rama, backhanding the puck over the glove of Richard Bachman (who had replaced starter Kari Lehtonen) in the third period. The Comcast SportsNet production team was so dazzled by the goal that it credited it to the Stars before coming to its senses.
Coming up Monday night is another game in Colorado, where the 'Hawks dropped their first regulation contest of the season last week. That is followed by what should be a real Western Conference showdown in Anaheim.
Garnering at least a split in a pair of tough games would be completely acceptable to close out the last lengthy road excursion of the 2013 campaign. Chicago plays consecutive road games just once the rest of the way, and that is just a two-game swing to Western Canada next month.
I'll be back Monday with a look at those pesky Avs as the 'Hawks try to keep rolling on the road.