Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, left, reaches out to defend against Chicago Blackhawks' Brandon Saad (20) in the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
It wasn't the most exciting game ever played, but Byron Froese scored twice and Joakim Nordstrom and Garret Ross each added tallies as the Chicago Blackhawks knocked off the Detroit Red Wings by a 4-3 score on Sunday afternoon in the Motor City.
The win moves the Hawks' record in the preseason to 3-0-1, and gives Corey Crawford his second win of the preseason between the pipes.
With that, here were Sunday's Three Stars:
Third Star: Brandon Bollig
It isn't often that you see Bollig get on this list without doing much on the offensive side of the ice, but his effort in this one is a microcosm of what he has been able to do so far this preseason.
In the game, Bollig had two hits and two blocked shots, but it was the way he accumulated one of those blocks that earned him this spot. In the second period, the Red Wings had possession of the puck in the Hawks' zone and were cycling it around. Bollig didn't have a stick, and so the Wings deliberately moved the puck around to his side of the ice. Sensing an opportunity, Bollig dove in front of a shot, blocked it, and enabled the Hawks to clear the zone without any further trouble.
Normally, a play like that during the course of a game isn't enough to generate much notice, but with the more intelligent play that Bollig has displayed throughout the preseason this year, he is making a mark on the club, and has almost certainly gone from a borderline roster player at the beginning of the year to just about becoming a sure thing.
Second Star: Byron Froese
On a day when most of the Hawks' stars were either out or didn't do much of note, Froese seized the opportunity and showed his stuff in this game.
In the first period, the Hawks had a good possession going in the Detroit zone, and Froese was right there in the middle of the scrum in front of the Wings' net. When a shot came in from the corner, Froese was able to outmuscle two Detroit defenders and pop the loose puck into the back of the net to tie the game.
Then, in the third period, Froese struck again, this time deflecting a shot from the corner. Defenseman Brent Seabrook, taking advantage of some lazy play behind the net by the Wings' defenders, caught the puck near the goal line, and fired a nifty pass toward the net that Froese, once again winning battle against a defender, was able to deflect past Howard to extend the Hawks' lead at that time to a 4-1 margin.
That ability to get in front of the net and battle with most of Detroit's starters is a great sign for the Hawks as they continue to evaluate Froese, and although he won't be on the team's roster when they break camp, it's these kinds of games that can land players a shot at the roster down the road.
First Star: Joakim Nordstrom
Speaking of players who will likely be shipped off to the Rockford IceHogs' camp after Monday's game with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nordstrom was another player who made a big impression on the ice Sunday.
In the game, Nordstrom got a little bit lucky in the first period, and was able to shoot the puck past Howard to the near post to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead. On the play, Nordstrom intercepted an errant Detroit pass, moved quickly towards the net, and whiffed on his first attempt to shoot the puck.
Collecting it back after that failed attempt, Nordstrom managed to settle the puck down, drag it to his forehand, and out-maneuver Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith all in one fluid motion, and took advantage of Howard committing to the initial shot as he beat the star goaltender.
It was a play that may have spawned from a lucky break, but it was completed by a player whose athleticism has to have caught the eye of Hawks' scouts during his stint with the club during this preseason.