Yes, Detroit was without 2 of their biggest stars, Datsyuk and Lidstrom, but the Hawks were without Jonathan Toews as well. Heading into today’s game, the Wings had the best home record in all of hockey. That, coupled with the fact that the ‘Hawks are desperate for every point they can get right now, is what makes this win so big for them. They are now 7 points out of the number 9 spot in the Western Conference, and 6 points ahead of the 7 and 8 spots. The more distance that the Blackhawks can put between themselves and the teams below them in the conference, the better.
It is encouraging to see this team putting up some big wins lately in Ottawa, and now Detroit, without Toews being in the lineup. Because of the injuries to Toews, Hjalmarsson, and Montador, rookies like Andrew Shaw, Dylan Olsen, and Jimmy Hayes are all getting the chance to prove themselves at the NHL level. These guys have been providing a ton of energy to this team lately, which is exactly what the ‘Hawks need. A great example of this came today when Shaw got into a fight with Detroit’s Brendan Smith with about 5 minutes left in the second period. The fight energized not just the fans, but the two teams as well, and less than 3 minutes later Patrick Kane scored what ended up being the game winning goal. Sometimes that’s all it takes. A simple fight to boost your team’s energy, and it’s the little things like that these rookies have been providing lately. Hopefully they can keep it up.
I’m not saying that the ‘Hawks will be fine without Toews moving forward, because they won’t be (Toews was leading the league in faceoff percentage before his injury). But, the Blackhawks and their rookies have been showing some good signs the past 3 games. Now all they need is Toews and Hjalmarsson to get healthy again. That will only provide more energy to this team.