Blackhawks Roll Past Buffalo as Rookies Continue to Shine

 In what could be described as a measured effort, the Blackhawks defeated a struggling crew from Buffalo 6-2. The Sabres took advantage of some Hawks miscues to score two goals, but this contest never seemed in doubt. Rookies Andrew Shaw and Jimmy Hayes entertained a crowd of 21,114 and were a big part of another Chicago victory.

The Hawks reclaimed the top spot in the Western Conference as a sense of determination appears to have set in. The Sabres aren’t firing on all cylinders, and if the Blackhawks took them lightly, the results might have been different on Wednesday night. That wasn’t the case, as the Hawks grinded their way to victory and took care of a team they should defeat. Wednesday night belonged to the Blackhawks, and when they turned it on, the Sabres couldn’t keep up.

Once again Hayes and Shaw made their presence felt and contributed to the cause. Each player was credited with a goal and assist, and Shaw recorded four shots on goal along with four hits.

Shaw should have had another assist on an athletic play which led to a Marcus Kruger tap in. The Hawks were denied that score as the referee thought there was a hand pass made by Shaw and waved off the goal. It was the incorrect call, but a hand pass is not something that can be reviewed by the War Room in Toronto. Nonetheless, the Hawks and Shaw stayed determined and prevailed.

Jonathan Toews scored two times on the power play and led all skaters with six shots on goal. As usual, Toews was dominant in the faceoff circle, winning at a 65 percent clip. Following the game, Toews commented on what a difference Hayes and Shaw have made. The Captain remarked that it is a huge difference to have all four lines working and making things happen.

For the first time in a long time, the Hawks have more than Toews standing in front of the net on a power play. The additions of Hayes and Shaw have established more net presence with the man advantage and throughout a game. Both young players have a high enough hockey IQ to find the open ice and get into goal scoring position.

Wednesday night, Shaw stood his ground and scored the first Blackhawk goal. Hayes’ strike came on a beautiful cross-ice pass from Andrew Brunette. Hayes went flying down his wing straight for the net and buried his scoring chance. That was the fourth goal in ten games for Hayes, and afterwards the Hawks never looked back.

Shaw scored his fifth goal in eight games and it appears he isn’t a fluke. Surprisingly, there was another Blackhawk rookie who had an even faster start than Shaw. In 2003 Igor Radulov scored five goals in his first seven games.

Radulov became the definition of a “flash in the pan,” as he scored only eleven points on four goals the following season. He never made it with the Hawks and left to play in Russia during the 2003-2004 campaign. It’s too early to proclaim Shaw will have a long and productive NHL career, but he doesn’t look like Igor Radulov to me.

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Today’s Fox Chicago  article contains an audio link for a SiriusXm interview with Jamie Shalley. We touched upon some trade speculation.

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