Sunday, June 2, 2013
Team effort propels Blackhawks in Game 2
By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks weren’t the league’s best regular-season team simply for one or two reasons.
It wasn’t their stars or their goaltenders who carried them every game. While Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane played well enough in the regular season to draw consideration for the Hart Memorial Trophy, and goaltenders Corey Crawford and Ray Emery combined to win the Jennings Trophy, they were far from being the sole reasons for the Blackhawks rolling off points in their first 24 games and eventually capturing the Presidents’ Trophy.
The Blackhawks' Bryan Bickell has six goals in these playoffs.
The Blackhawks were better than everyone else in the regular season because they got the most of their entire lineup. Players like Toews and Kane were key to that success, but lesser-known players like Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger were just as important.
On Sunday, the Blackhawks showed just how dominant they can be when they’re clicking throughout their lineup. The Blackhawks received contributions from nearly everyone on Sunday on their way to a 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 2 of their Western Conference finals series.
“When we’re rolling four lines hard with short shifts, I think we have a great hockey team and a great pace in our game,” Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell said. “And I think when we do that we have confidence. I know it wears down their D and their forwards, when we keep them short. It’s fun to be part of.”
Bickell has been one of the playoffs' biggest impact performers and proof of just how deep the Blackhawks have been this season. During the regular season, Bickell was a solid contributor on the third line with nine goals and 14 assists in 48 games. In the playoffs, he’s been a star. He scored his sixth goal of the playoffs in Sunday’s win.
Bickell’s play has recently earned him a spot on the team’s top line in the playoffs and resulted in rookie Brandon Saad moving to the third line. But like Bickell, Saad has also found ways to contribute in his new role. He had two assists on Sunday.
“It seems to be contributions from everyone, so it’s nice to have,” Kane said. “Obviously a few guys are hot right now, like Sharp and Bickell and Saad played great tonight, so it was great to see him get on the board with a few assists. That’s kind of been the key to our team all year is depth and timely scoring from every line.”
The Blackhawks also got help from both sides of their special teams in the victory. They scored their first power-play goal of the series on Bickell’s goal and killed off four more power plays. They’ve allowed just two goals in 48 power play attempts in the playoffs.
Aside from the offensive contributions, Crawford continued to do his job. He allowed two goals and made 29 saves in Sunday’s win. It was the 10th time in 14 playoff games he’s held the opponent to two or less goals.
“He's been obviously unbelievable for us,” Toews said of Crawford. “It's one thing to play as good as he did early on, but the biggest thing is he hasn’t shown any satisfaction. He keeps improving and he's as focused as he's ever been. He wants to be that go-to guy where maybe we have a tough period where we're giving up a few scoring chances and he steps right up and gives us that energy and gives us that momentum we need as a team. He's been unbelievable since the start and obviously our go-to guy right now.”