Blackhawks rediscover dominance in Detroit
DETROIT – Easter Sunday celebrates resurrection.
And that brings us to the Blackhawks’ offense.
That collective sigh of relief you heard passing over Lake Michigan resonated from Joe Louis Arena, where finally, the brand of hockey Hawks’ fans became so accustomed to this season made its triumphant return in the form of a 7-1 win over the Red Wings.
Back from the dead. Alive and well. The perfect ending to your festive Easter brunch.
Who knows? Maybe the Hawks gave up scoring for Lent’s stretch run. Maybe spring’s slow start kept the offense from blooming. Face it. Even with their gaudy Western Division-leading record, the Hawks goal-production had been woeful. Fourteen goals in five losses, often disappearing during critical third-period stretches, unable to produce late and when it mattered most.
Sunday, though, was a fresh start. A new beginning.
And what a beginning it was. Try three goals in a stretch of 1:39 when seemingly everything the Hawks threw at the net was going in. Yes, I realize that Detroit’s Jakub Kindl had a nifty backhander that escaped Wings’ goalie Jimmy Howard. But that only piled on to goals by Jeremy Morin and Brandon Saad that both came before fans got settled into their seats.
Not impressed? How about two second-period goals that came a whopping eight seconds apart.
They weren’t all beautiful, awe-inspiring goals . Some were downright ugly.
But considering the frustration that had dampened the Hawks’ historic start and that had defined five losses in nine games, Sunday’s flourish couldn’t have come at a better time.
Asked to put into words what had gone wrong during the Hawks’ recent skid, captain Jonathan Toews said the Hawks lost sight of what made them so dangerous earlier this season. They forgot how to play an entire 60 minutes. They failed to do the little things.
Yes, the Hawks have been without Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, throwing chemistry into a dizzying downward spiral. The pace was off. The Hawks at times, especially defensively, appeared lost. But in the midst of everything that they were asked to endure, the Hawks pressed on.
That brings us to resurrection Sunday.
“We got back to playing the right way tonight,” Toews said. “You saw the result.”
The Hawks won’t score seven goals every night. And face it, they played Detroit at a good time after the Wings were coming off a tough four-game West Coast swing and played without star Henrik Zetterberg.
But with one complete 60-minute showing, the Hawks who made you believe they are the best team in the NHL re-emerged Sunday. The uncertainty that defined the past nine games disappeared and for the first time in a while, Toews and his teammates actually looked like they were enjoying themselves.
Hossa and Sharp could come back as early as tonight against Nashville, returning the Hawks to full strength. And with no more regular-season games against the Ducks, the Hawks appear to again be on solid footing thanks to a confidence-building performance when everything again seemed to go right.
Resurrection Sunday, indeed.
• Jeff Arnold is a sports reporter with the Northwest Herald. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @NWH_JeffArnold.