Chicago Blackhawks Cap 2011 Appropriately, Beat Red Wings 3-2

Matt BauerCorrespondent IIDecember 31, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 02:  Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks, who scored the game-winning goal during a shootout against the New York Islanders, congratulates teammates at the United Center on December 2, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blkackhawks defeated the Islanders 5-4 in a shootout.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Friday, December 30 was the Chicago Blackhawks' final game of the 2011 calendar year, and it ended in a 3-2 win over longtime rival Detroit Red Wings.

This win over Detroit was not a cheap one. Joel Quenneville and the Hawks had to work for everything they earned during all 60 minutes of fast-paced, physical hockey.

The Hawks success against the Red Wings started with the core group of skaters that Stan Bowman has signed for the Blackhawks' long-term plan—the guys who will be with the organization for at least the next four seasons.

All three Blackhawk goals were scored by members of the so-called "core."

Jonathan Toews, also known as Captain Serious, drew a penalty shot in the first period and proceeded to go five-hole on Wings goalie Jimmy Howard to tie the game at one.

Marian Hossa showed off his strength and stealth when he gained control of the puck from behind the Wings' red line, skated along the sideboards, across the blue line and then wound up a slap shot from the faceoff circle. Jimmy Howard had no chance, and Hossa's goal tied the game at two.

The third goal came off the stick of Brent Seabrook early in the third period. Patrick Sharp gave Seabs a one-time pass from the corner and, as Pat Foley said, he wound up a "rocket" from the point. That was just Seabrook's second goal of the season, but his blast proved to be the game-winner.

Three beautiful scoring plays courtesy of the Blackhawks, and a win made them all that much sweeter.


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

- Jimmy Hayes made his NHL debut in the Hawks' 3-2 win over Detroit. He skated with veterans Andrew Brunette and Jamal Mayers, for the most part, and spent 8:23 on the ice. I liked what I saw in Hayes' first outing with the NHL club because of the size he brings to the ice and how he makes use of it.  Hayes had four hits in Friday's game. 

- Daniel Carcillo returned to the ice Friday night after missing six straight games with what was suspected to be a concussion but listed as an upper body injury. Carbomb made himself right at home in the Chicago-Detroit rivalry when he leveled Todd Bertuzzi, legally, and then dropped the gloves after Bertuzzi asked him to dance.

Clearly Carcillo's head was fine, or he had no fear of taking a couple shots to the dome, but he landed a few on Bertuzzi and jacked up the home crowd at the United Center.

- Bryan Bickell continues to look dazed and confused every time he takes the ice—it doesn't matter who he's skating with.

- Michael Frolik is the only other guy on the Hawks roster that's as useless, if not more so, than Bickell.  Frolik has a mere three points in his last 22 games. It's time Coach Q sits Mikey for a few games and showcases some of the talent the Hawks have down in Rockford. Maybe it'll clear Frolik's head.

Carbomb didn't waste any time to get back to causing havoc on the ice in his first game after a six-game absence.
Carbomb didn't waste any time to get back to causing havoc on the ice in his first game after a six-game absence.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

- I feel bad for Dave Bolland because he was skating between Frolik and Bickell in the win over Detroit. Bolly deserves better than that.

- Andrew Brunette has been showing some life lately, and it's mainly been behind the opponent's net.  Bruno fights off defenders while controlling the puck whether the Hawks are on the power play or even strength. It's great to see the crafty vet putting in the work Stan Bowman expected of him.

- Corey Crawford has re-found his swagger, and he's answering any questions as to whether or not he's the Hawks' main guy between the pipes.

- It's miserable watching Steve Montador and Sean O'Donnell as a defensive pairing. It doesn't get much slower than those two unless John Scott is paired with either one. Game by game it's looking as if another blueliner is what the Hawks will be going after prior to the NHL's trade deadline.

- Patrick Kane's spin-o-rama pass to Marian Hossa for the goal is still the best Blackhawks play of the season.

Looking Ahead

Hopefully the Blackhawks don't get too wild in honor of the win over Detroit and celebration of the new year, because these guy have a heck of a month ahead of them in January.

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 30: Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks makes a glove save against the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center on December 30, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It's not getting any easier for the Hawks. January presents them with 13 games, and two of them are in a seven-day span against the same Red Wing team they battled on Friday night.

The second half of the 2012 season is about to be upon the Hawks, and every two points are important if they want to be a top team in the Western Conference.

This year's Chicago Blackhawks have the potential to hoist the Stanley Cup at season's end, and it'd be very unfortunate if they let that possibility slip away with streaks of poor play and execution.

Here's to looking forward to a happy, healthy and successful second half of the '12 season for the Chicago Blackhawks!


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