All throughout the Chicago Blackhawks’ amazing streak, fans of the team knew they couldn’t get too excited. A great start is something that every team would want, but a good finish is what counts. Now, that start has to turn in to a good finish. The Hawks are now into the “home stretch” of the 2013 season. The Hawks could put it on cruise control and still coast to a playoff spot, but that is not what they will do. Here’s what’s gonna happen for the final 17 contests of the season.
The 4 day break last weekend has to rejuvenate the team.
4 days off is not common in this short season, and the Hawks need to have made the most of this, resting their sore, tired, and injured bodies. With a key physical presence and the team’s third leading scorer (Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa, respectively) day-to-day, this gives them time to get back a little earlier than they could have if Chicago didn’t have this break. Also during this time, Coach Q has to take a look at the powerplay, which hasn’t been on par with the rest of the team’s level of play so far this season. The Blackhawks will be expected to come out of the gate flying through last night’s L.A. game, as well as tonight’s contest against the Calgary Flames, and Friday’s, when they face the Ducks. They also have to keep this energy going into the month of April, as they will not have a break longer than two days until the 16th.
They have to win games they should win, so they can prepare for the tough games.
A great example of this is the next two games, against Calgary and Anaheim. Calgary always seems to throw a monkeywrench into Chicago’s plans, but they need to be on point tonight, making sure this is an easy win against one of the West’s worst teams. They need this win to prepare for the Anaheim game on Friday, because it will most likely be a ‘four-point’ game. The Hawks’ key players will need to play well in both contests, and the depth needs to shine again. In the last 17 games, 9 are against teams not currently in the playoffs. These games need to be wins, so the Hawks have a little bit of a safety-net for the tougher contests. They have 9 divisional games left, which are always hard contests to win, especially if you’re in the Central. Chicago is a team that can beat every other team in the NHL; they just have to play consistent hockey, get their players healthy, and come out ready to play every night.
Stars have to shine in Chicago for this last month.
The Blackhawks’ core is one of the best in the league, and only comparable to Pittsburgh, a team they would not see unless both teams reach the Finals. For Patrick Kane and company, their mission is simple, and they have to follow through more nights than not. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook need heighten their level of play just a little more, and become that brick wall D pairing they were in 2010. Marian Hossa needs to recover from this injury fast, and return to the role of veteran presence that he has been in prior to the setback. Kane and Jonathan Toews need to keep on playing their great 2-way game, and put the puck in the net early and often. Dave Bolland, Brandon Saad, and the others need to play consistent hockey games, and keeping the puck out of the defensive zone is the first priority.
All the pieces are in place for a memorable playoff run. However, that does not begin until these 17 games are over. The Blackhawks should be in the same place they currently are at the end of the year, but only time will tell.
LET’S GO HAWKS!
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