Chicago Blackhawks steamroll the Dallas Stars 6-2 - FOX 32 News Chicago

Blackhawks steamroll the Stars 6-2

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Goalie Antti Raanta did just fine and his teammates made sure he wasn't called on for extraordinary duty. The Blackhawks were good throughout and finished in fine fashion as they put the hammer down and defeated the Dallas Stars 6-2. Raanta is now 4-0-1 on the season with a 2.14 GAA.

The Stars were without their two best defensemen, as they were out due to injury. Even when at full strength their blueline isn't an all star staff. Dallas needs to play a more careful game and hope for good goaltending. The exact opposite took place as the Stars were guilty of careless penalties, some poor coverage and goaltender Kari Lehtonen wasn't very sharp. All that combined plus a strong effort from the Blackhawks led to a lopsided road win.

Many times when a club doesn't take advantage of a 1:55 two-man power play it will come back to haunt them. That wasn't the case on Tuesday night as the Hawks failed on a long two man advantage. Instead of leading to a Dallas charge, shortly thereafter Patrick Kane scored on a breakaway and the Hawks were on their way.

Defenseman Michael Kostka played his first game since October 19 and scored his second goal of the season to open the scoring. Chicago then followed with four straight goals to take a 5-0 lead. Kostka has played well and has an offensive flare, he looks to be a very good off season signing.

Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad connected with two goals each, as the Hawks captured their league leading 12th road win.

Many like to focus on shots on goal, which are important no doubt. Another stat that is an indicator of strong play and can telegraph a winning effort on many nights is blocked shots. The Blackhawks recorded 21 blocks while the Stars had only 12. That type of effort along with some outstanding passing from defensemen led to a fast transition game. The Hawks offense was in high gear and the Stars had no answer.

This was one of the few times Joel Quenneville could cut back on ice time for some regulars during the third period in the first of back to back games. Old habits die hard as Duncan Keith still led all players with 24:47 of ice time. Kane, Sharp and Jonathan Toews all played more than 18:00.

The Philadelphia Flyers pay a visit to the United Center on Wednesday and Raanta should get the start once again. The Flyers are having a tough season and will be playing the final contest of a six game road trip. It is likely former Blackhawk Ray Emery will get the start in goal as the Flyers will be looking to break a two game losing streak.

Al's Shots

There is a debate among Hawk fans which has surfaced with the injury to Corey Crawford. Now that it has been reported Crawford will miss two to three weeks after suffering a groin injury there is some controversy.

Some fans believe there was a bigger need to acquire a solid backup goaltender as Nikolai Khabibulin hadn't been very effective before getting hurt, rather than to trade for Kris Versteeg. Once the trade was made for Versteeg, GM Stan Bowman knew he would be bumping up to the salary cap ceiling. Bowman knew the risks but still made the trade.

I can't argue with Bowman's thinking.

To be able to acquire a $4.4 million forward in Versteeg, albeit an overpaid player, for half price is difficult to pass. More so than the salary savings because Panthers GM Dale Tallon was in purge mode and couldn't find a better trade partner, Versteeg could fill a few needs.

I don't think Bowman was looking for more offense but there was a need to tighten up the defensive structure and Versteeg could plug a hole. His presence on the third line could help solidify them as an actual checking unit. Versteeg grasped a third line role here back in 2010 and that line was a key factor in the Stanley Cup run. The Hawks needed experience and Versteeg can play anywhere from the first to the fourth line, so his versatility was what couldn't be passed up.

Versteeg wasn't acquired to fill the second line center role but he will likely get a shot to do so. If that works out the Hawks would have a second line pivot who can skate with Kane and get creative. So Versteeg at $2.2 million was difficult to pass, and if he turns out to be a shadow of the player who hoisted the Cup only then should Bowman regret his move.

One shouldn't forget Tallon thought enough of Versteeg to sign him to a four year $17.6 million contract. Versteeg was injury plagued during his Panthers stint and it should be safe to assume Bowman did his due diligence before pulling the trigger on the trade.

Raanta has been rushed up to Chicago but let's not forget he wasn't the number two goaltender on the depth chart, that title belonged to Khabibulin. If Bowman made a mistake it was in the signing of the often injured Khabibulin.

The point of debate should not be a choice between Versteeg or another goaltender because it really wasn't an either or situation. Bowman wasn't ready to replace Khabibulin via trade, and if forced to make a change Raanta was likely next in line.

All a general manager can do is put his team in the best position to win. There is no way with salary cap limitations to have a foot on every base. The Hawks were basically three deep at the goaltender position even though Raanta is inexperienced, most teams are no better off.

Raanta will have to learn on the fly and Bowman may have to find an experienced journeyman to give him some time off if Khabibulin isn't back soon. Versteeg was a low risk acquisition, and now due to the injury bug biting hard some bad luck will have to be dealt with.

The best teams are able to cope, so Hawk fans will have to hang on tight.

I will be back on Thursday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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