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Blackhawks Mon Nov 09 2009

Hawks Postgame Puck Zone

Tonight's Blackhawks game against the L.A. Kings was the lone contest on the schedule, and the Hawks delivered to a national Vs. audience, earning a 4-1 victory to snap a two game skid.

A few thoughts after returning from the United Center, both on the game and the state of the Hawks in general:

Tonight saw the return of Hawks captain Jonathon Toews and winger Ben Eager from concussion symptoms. Toews looked a little rusty to start, but began to find his stride as the game wore on and found the back of the net on the power play in the third period. More importantly, following a spotty start, the Hawks settled into the game and Toews' presence was felt through all the lines. Eager, in limited minutes, showed a spark that the Hawks' fourth line has been missing.

Unfortunately the Hawks still found themselves short-handed, as Dave Bolland missed his second straight game due to lingering back problems that could eventually result in surgery. If Bolland bounces back, the Hawks may find themselves at close to full strength at the end of the month, when free agent sniper Marian Hossa is expected to return from a shoulder injury.

For once, the Blackhawks power play was indeed advantageous, going 2 for 3 in the victory, again with Toews a major factor. The Hawks need to use the momentum from tonight and figure out what was working because the past month has seen more struggle than success. The Hawks did also net a power play goal in their last game at Colorado, but the special teams unit also gave up a short-handed goal and a second goal just at even-strength, and the night before the team fizzled to an 0-for-6 in a loss at Phoenix.

Two of the biggest unsung heroes the first month of the season have been John Madden. Madden scored his second goal on a nifty backhand tonight, earning a well-deserved spotlight with the game winner, but his signing was one of the shrewdest off-season moves the Hawks made. Madden is a strong defensive forward, does great work in the face-off circles and has been able to adapt his game to a rotating group of line mates. Also, I've sung his praises before, but Andrew Ladd continues to play a fantastic game and does not get nearly the accolades he deserves.

Tonight's number one star was Troy Brouwer, who netted a goal and two assists, along with a team high six hits. Brouwer has been making his presence felt on the physical end throughout the year, but if he can continue to contribute offensively (he's currently 8th on the team in points), he could be poised for a career year. Also, congratulations to Andrew Ebbett on his first goal as a Blackhawk tonight.

The win over the Kings was the beginning of a four-game homestand, followed by the annual two-week long circus trip as Ringling Brothers moves into the U.C. Wednesday, the Hawks play host to the West-leading Colorado Avalanche. The teams have split the season series so far, with both games going into lengthy shootouts. The Hawks also honor Bobby Hull during the game. Friday is an Original Six battle with the woeful Toronto Maple Leafs, and Sunday the Hawks welcome the San Jose Sharks and former player Jeremy Roenick gets his own well-deserved Heritage night from the team.

 
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