Hello Hawks fans! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend, filled with good food, family, friends, and football. Today though, it’s back to the grind after a nice break. Our beloved Blackhawks are back in the home office in sweet home Chicago as well after seven away games that spanned over the past two weeks.
Needless to say, for the Hawks this year’s Circus Trip was a great success, with our boys winning six out of seven games on other teams’ home ice. As anyone who has ever played on any kind of traveling sports team knows, long road trips can generate a lot of interesting outcomes for a team and its players. Dynamics are reached and dissolved, lessons are learned and taught, and names are made and broken. In other words, you’re always bringing things back home after extended travel, wanted and unwanted. Being the only team in the NHL to go on the road for two straight weeks during the regular season, this is especially true for the Blackhawks.
After seven games away, here are seven “souvenirs” from the Hawks’ Circus Trip:
1.) This 6-1 Circus Trip is the Blackhawks’ best in the past ten years: The Hawks have not posted a winning Circus Trip record since the 2009-2010 season, with a 4-2 finish, and we all know how that season ended…
2.) The Colorado Avalanche are dangerous: The Hawks were able to bounce back after the 5-1 drubbing they took in Denver at the start of the trip, but the message was clear: with a shoot first offensive mentality and the formidable goalie tandem of Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Semyon Varlamov that is only going to get more potent under the tutelage of future Hall of Fame goalie and new Head Coach Patrick Roy, this recent addition to the Central Division are not to be taken lightly.
3.) Patrick Kane enhanced his Hart Trophy candidacy: Kaner finished the Circus Trip with an astounding five goals and four assists. Even sans a regular season MVP honor, his Circus Trip performance continues to indicate Kane is in the midst of a career season.
4.) Corey Crawford is worth his new contract: Crawford demonstrated durability physically and mentally this Circus Trip and fittingly he got his 100th career win after an 11 round shoot-out against the Dallas Stars. Congrats Crow!
5.) The Hawks came out strong against historic and present adversity: Anyone that jumped on the bandwagon after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010 knows that for whatever reasons, the Edmonton Oilers and Phoenix Coyotes have historically given the Hawks problems over the years. This Circus Trip though, the Hawks came of out firing against these Western Conference franchises, netting a total of five goals in the first periods of both games, and putting Edmonton and Phoenix against the wall early and keeping them there until a decisive victory was achieved. Furthermore, the Hawks came from behind to win against the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, and the Dallas Stars. Come-from-behind victories are always great because team character-building is the by-product that comes along with the W, making the win twice as nice.
6.) Michal Handzus’ return was underwhelming: Sorry Zus, you were great in the post season last year, but this Circus Trip has continued to demonstrate you’re becoming more of a burden than an asset. It’s clear at his age Handzus just can’t keep up with the likes of Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad on the second line. Potential 3 on 2 and 2 on 1 plays become 2 on 2 and 1 on 1 plays respectively because Saad and Kane are always a step and a half ahead of Handzus. It was a sin for Hawks coach Joel Quenneville to break up the line of Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad, and Brandon Pirri in the first place, given their ridiculous point production. Here’s hoping Handzus is just a seat-filler until Bryan Bickell returns from his injury.
7.) Welcome to the party Antii Raanta: Raanta’s debut with the Hawks was a trial-by-flame thrower in the first game of the Circus Trip where he came in to relieve a rightfully-so fatigued Crawford. Raanta played out the bad hand he was dealt against the Avs that night, but since then, he went on to post two wins in games against the Flames and Coyotes, making a phenomenal 32 saves in the latter. Raanta isn’t necessarily going to set the world on fire, but that’s okay, because his main job is to hold down the fort and make sure Crawford can get some much needed rest. After his performance this Circus Trip, it looks like Raanta is more than capable of fulfilling this role.
After their 6-1 road trip the Blackhawks will finally return to the Madhouse on Madison tomorrow night to host the Dallas Stars. Let’s hope the Hawks can keep the momentum rolling on their home ice. So in the words of “Doc” Emrick, we hoped you enjoyed the Circus Trip, we know you enjoyed the outcome! Welcome home Hawks!
FOR THE DAGGER!