Start of second half has familiar feel
January, 3, 2010
By JESSE ROGERS
Bill Smith/NHLI/Getty ImagesJonathan Toews scored on an assist by Patrick Kane Sunday night against the Ducks.
The second half of the season began the same way the first half ended. With a resounding victory against an opponent that was clearly overmatched.
Playing undermanned, on the road, and against the elite Chicago Blackhawks is no way to go through life, but the Anaheim Ducks had to do it anyway. After a scoreless and quiet first period -- as the Hawks re-adjusted to a speed game as opposed to the street fight in St. Louis the nigh before -- the home team took control, and now the only debate might be which line is clicking best.
For the second consecutive home game, each top nine forward had at least a point, as the Hawks built a 5-0 lead before Anaheim tallied twice to ruin a shutout bid by Antti Niemi.
“[Coach] Joel [Quenneville] has left the lines alone for a little bit, and we’re starting to get some chemistry,” John Madden said after the win. “I think he likes the way each line is going ... When you get four lines firing and helping out on the offensive end, it’s going to be pretty tough for other teams to beat you.”
Madden centering Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Versteeg might be the best one right now. They opened the scoring in the second period after Niemi went post to post to make a big save. Byfuglien got it to Madden who found Versteeg for his 12th goal.
Not to be outdone, Patrick Kane and Troy Brouwer hooked up later in the period for a 2-0 lead. Jonathan Toews didn’t get a point but did the dirty work behind the Ducks' net. Toews scored later on a second assist by Kane.
And then it was Marian Hossa’s turn. In a matter of a couple minutes early in the third period, Hossa lasered two quick ones past J.S. Giguere for his seventh and eighth goals of the season. Hossa hadn’t scored in six games, which is an eternity for him, and he wanted to make sure he was doing things the right way.
“When guys who are used to scoring goals haven’t scored in five or something like that [games] you try to force it and try to go aggressive instead of keeping it simple,” Hossa said. “That’s mother nature, right? Sometimes you just have to relax and keep it simple and relax, and good things will happen.”
It doesn’t hurt to switch sticks, which Hossa did recently. Andrew Ladd and Patrick Sharp assisted on Hossa’s first of the night to complete the nine points for nine forwards.
After the game, Quenneville was asked where there might be need for improvement. He might still be trying to find an answer. Perhaps the power play is about all he could come up with.
As for Anaheim, they’re due back next Sunday. They may want to bring injured stars Getzlaf, Selanne, or Lupul or the boxscore might be full of Hawks again.