Red Wings vs. Blackhawks: No Star Power, No Problem for Chicago

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Red Wings vs. Blackhawks: No Star Power, No Problem for Chicago

The eighth seed in the Western Conference went down easily in the first round, as the Chicago Blackhawks disposed of the Minnesota Wild in five games.

The seventh seed may not offer much more resistance.

The Chicago Blackhawks didn't get any goals from stars Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane, but they registered a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 1 of the second-round series.

The game was all about the Blackhawks' speed, depth and relentlessness. It didn't matter that the team's brightest stars registered just one assist each; the 'Hawks had the Red Wings on the run for much of the last two periods.

If the Red Wings have any hope of pushing the Blackhawks, head coach Mike Babcock is going to have to change his strategy. They did a good job of keeping Toews and Kane from taking over the game, but the Blackhawks got key goals in the third period from Johnny Oduya and Marcus Kruger to break a 1-1 tie.

The goal by Oduya came when Kane was on the ice. The Red Wings defense kept a close eye on the explosive Kane, and that allowed Oduya to step in off the blue line and score the go-ahead goal. He took a sweet pass from Patrick Sharp and then whipped an even better shot off the crossbar over goalie Jimmy Howard's shoulder.

Kane and Toews each had one assist in the win, but that was the extent of their contribution on the scoresheet. Coach Joel Quenneville knows that Toews and Kane are going to produce big numbers eventually, but he's not worried if it takes a few more games before it happens.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Stars Jonathan Toews (left) and Patrick Kane don't have to be involved in all the Blackhawks' scoring if the team is going to win.

Not only do the Blackhawks have plenty of depth thanks to Marian Hossa, Brandon Saad, Dave Bolland and Sharp, but Quenneville also knows his team has won many games when the top duo hasn't scored.

Recently, the 'Hawks took Game 4 of the first-round series against the Wild by a 3-0 margin. It was the most important game of the series since the Wild had won the third game in overtime. Neither Toews nor Kane had a point in that game.

When the Blackhawks met the St. Louis Blues on April 14, Blues goalie Brian Elliott had a streak of three straight shutouts. The Blackhawks won the game 2-0, and the scoring was done by Bryan Bickell and Marian Hossa. Neither Kane nor Toews had an assist.

Few teams can win consistently when their stars are not scoring. But the Blackhawks are not in that group.

If they are going to fulfill the promise they showed throughout the regular season and take their second Stanley Cup in four years, Toews and Kane will have their moments. But if it's not in the second round, there's no panic involved.

There are plenty of others to pick up the slack. The first game in the series against the Red Wings is proof of that.

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