With the playoffs uncertain for the 2010-2011 Chicago Blackhawks, many fans are extremely worried about the team's chance to defend the Stanley Cup without stars Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane for any period of the season.
It was announced today that both players would miss extensive periods of time, with Kane most likely out for three weeks and Hossa possibly even longer.
It is imperative that the team not miss a beat without these key offensive catalysts in the meantime, including in their matchup with the Dallas Stars tonight.
In what was fan-favorite Adam Burish's first time back to the United Center since signing with the Stars via free agency, emotions were high going into this game. On the other end of the spectrum and ice, Marty Turco, who was the franchise goalie for Dallas throughout the last decade, gave way for young Corey Crawford, who has been playing well of late. This was no doubt a classy and professional move by Turco, clearly showing his team-first attitude.
The game's top performer in my eyes was Bryan Bickell. Yes, Jonathan Toews came up big, yet again, with a goal and a assist in this affair, but Bickell has been heating up and with perfect timing too. Many fans pegged the big Ontario native to have a breakout season this year. With his sixth goal of the season, he has definitely outdone some people's expectations.
The aforementioned captain Toews, yet again, showed he is willing to put his team on his shoulder's every once and a while and guide the way. Toews is an all-world talent, who, for the majority of his career, has been on lines with all-world talent.
Who needs to step up most in Hossa and Kane's absense?
He still has very good and serviceable players around him and the best in the business on the blue line, but he is definitely going to have to create for himself from time to time without Hossa and Kane.
Toews will need help from the team though on offense, as it cannot be done alone. Troy Brouwer has been effective at times, but has been inconsistent this season.
Dave Bolland has somewhat disappeared this season and Jack Skille has shown quick flashes of his Wisconsin Badger skill, but has not done it this season at the NHL level. The Blackhawks are in the middle of the Western Conference mix, but need these players to fill in the roles as best as they can.
Jeremy Morin scored his first NHL goal of his young career in the game as well—this after being recalled from Rockford.
Before the game Morin joked about putting on the miles on his car traveling back and forth from Chicago to Rockford and vice versa. Both the team and Morin most undoubtedly were okay with how it worked out tonight.
Crawford played well enough to win the matchup 5-3, which was capped off by an open-net goal, as time expired, by Patrick Sharp.
The team travels to the "Shark Tank" on Saturday to play the San Jose Sharks, who, in many ways, are playing like the Blackhawks this season.
It would be quite the statement if the team could beat the Sharks, who they have dominated recently in a convincing fashion.