January was a pretty wild month to kick off 2013 at least in Chicago Blackhawkland, although it started out like the previous three months before because it had started in lockdown. An NHL season looked pretty grim until some barn burning negotiations between the federal mediator and each side and it turned the tide so on January 6th Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman were able to announc a Framework of a Deal was in place.
With those seven words the NHL and all of it’s fans did a 180 degree turn from angry and disillusioned to ecstatic and overjoyed! After the deal was in place teams had a one week training camp. The Hawks off-season was a mixture of players in Europe, youngsters playing in Rockford, and our stars getting healthy and staying in shape in town at Johnny’s Ice House. One thing that has been apparent in the first week and a half was that the Blackhawks worked hard during the off-season to stay in shape and the familiarity of the roster made for a quick start to the season to commence.
The biggest lingering question that faced the Hawks moving into a shortened 48 game season was which Corey Crawford would emerge and if he would be an obstacle or a centerpiece to a Stanley Cup season. The season started by watching the Stanley Cup banner raised in LA. The Hawks watched then dismantled the Kings on opening Saturday with Crawford playing solid in a 5-2 victory.
The biggest relief for Hawks fans was the play of Marian Hossa who left the ice in the Coyotes series after the Raffi Torres hit, there would be no revenge on the ice except for the two goals Hossa scored in the dessert as the Blackhawks skated to a 6-4 win while ruining another banner raising night this time to celebrate the Coyotes division title.
Opening night at home was next up for the Hawks against what looks like the biggest rival for the Central Division crown in the St Louis Blues. The Hawks jumped out to a huge 3-0 lead then held on for dear life with Crawford making some big saves to preserve the 3-2 win in front of the United Center crowd.
The Blackhawks had jumped out to leads in the first three games, but it would not be the case in the Lone Star state. Dallas jumped out to the lead and Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen stood on his head and shut down quality chance after quality chance throughout most of the game. A fluke goal by Patrick Sharp changed the flow of the game and Jonathan Toews tied it in the third with a power play goal (yes we are scoring power play goals this season). Patrick Kane made a beautiful blind pass to Hossa for a one-timer for the O.T winner and a 4-0 start.
The Blackhawks victory entourage made it’s way to Columbus and the Hawks looked a step slow and sleep walking after a 4-0 start. The ref made a terrible no goal call to help preserve a 3-2 Blackhawks win which helped match the best start in Chicago Blackhawks history. On a light note we can stop the Viktor Stalberg owns the Blue Jackets after getting shut out in Columbus after collecting 10 points and the last Blackhawks hat trick last year.
History was made next when the Red Wings visited the United Center when Nick Leddy‘s overtime goal got pass Jimmy Howard for a 2-1 winner. The secret strength early on in the season was on display against Detroit has been the penalty kill. Yes all the big stars play on the PK but the one player that really has stood out has been Michael Frolik. Frolik on the third line has been very solid so far this season, but his play on the PK has been oustanding. The win did secure the greatest start in Chicago Blackhawks history with a 6-0 record.
The first blemish on the Hawks record came in a NBC rivalry Wednesday night game. If you read most people’s comments on Twitter they were so right.. The North Stars were the Hawks rivals not the Wild. The Hawks got a road point but were outplayed for most of the game while Corey Crawford continued his steady play, but they lost 3-2 in a shoot out on their first road game on the 6 game ice show road trip.
From lockout to 6-0-1 start is a whirlwind month for sure. What was your highlight of the month of January? What is your expectation for February?
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