The last couple of weeks have been hard for Tyler Seguin, but he went a long way to rectify things last night, as did his teammates.
After three tough losses in a row and some very questionable play, the Stars came out on fire and absolutely dominated the Blackhawks in every aspect of the game on Thursday night.
The cherry on top of the win is that it was also Ken Hitchcock’s 800th win.
In a monumental show of sportsmanship and class, Chicago’s coach, Joel Quennville, who is ahead of Hitchcock on the list with 868 wins, waited for Hitchcock to come off the bench after the game to personally congratulate him on the win.
“Congratulations from Joel means more than anything. We’ve had so much mutual respect from each other and helped each other along the way when we were both kind of in the down and outs. Coming from him, it means more than the number,” Hitchcock stated after the game.
The Stars have had a few games like last night this season, but they have been against far worse opponents.
The one thing that has hurt the Stars this season has been when they played teams that have as much or more speed than they do. They seem almost hypnotized when this happens, but not last night.
The entire team did what you have to do when you play a team with speed in that they suffocated them before they ever got a chance to get rolling and created turnover after turnover in the offensive zone.
In addition to that, the Stars spent plenty of time in opponent’s crease, most notably Tyler Seguin, and he was rewarded with two goals.
This is the one aspect of the game that I have been most critical of this team in that they don’t have anyone that seems willing to pay the price by hanging out in front of the net and take the abuse that is needed to cash in on those high-percentage second-chance shots.
Getting shots on goal has not been the Stars problem this year, but cashing in on those rebounds that flutter for a second or two when the goalie is out of position has been.
Ben Bishop also had a stellar game and got the shutout after some very questionable performances. This was the Ben Bishop that is supposed to propel the Stars to the next level.
The effort the boys put out for him in the final minutes was also amazing. Several players put themselves in front of shots to ensure the scoreboard read zero when time expired.
As great as all of that was, there was one play in the game that told me the Stars are doing whatever they can to make sure this season is a success.
Even though they were up 4-0 after the second period, captain Jamie Benn greeted a Blackhawk along the boards just as time expired, as if to say, “We may be up by 4, but we are not backing down one bit to let you back into this game.”
This is the type of effort we need from these guys night in and night out, even if they don’t win.
Perhaps the grind had gotten to them, as they did have an extra day off on this one to get their legs back. With the Christmas break coming after Saturday’s game, the Stars will really be able to recharge and make a huge run during the second half of the season.
Jamie Benn continued his recent hot streak, scoring his 15th goal of the season in the first period.
Tyler Seguin scored for the first time in eight games, netting two goals on the night, both from close range.
Antoine Roussel scored his fourth goal of the season early in the second period.
Ben Bishop saved all 24 shots he faced.
The Stars (19-14-3) remain home for the final game of this homestand and will face off against the Nashville Predators (21-9-4) on Saturday night. This is yet another huge test for the Stars as they try to get their first win against the three teams ahead of them in the division this year (St. Louis and Winnipeg being the other two).