Apr 24, 2011; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks celebrate their win following the overtime period in game six of the first round of the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Vancouver Canucks at the United Center. The Blackhawks defeated the Canucks 4-3 in OT. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Finally, there’s something that makes the cold winter a little less frigid. Hockey is back! Just when many new fans were beginning to think that the NHL was a distant dream, when it was getting difficult to drag memories of our new passion to the surface, the excitement returns!
Most of us are still angry that we missed so much hockey in the first place. All of this excitement should have happened in September. We should have a pretty good feel of our teams right now. Chicago Blackhawks fans should know whether or not Corey Crawford has become a solid goaltender, if Patrick Kane was able to kick his offense back up a notch, if Joel Quenneville‘s coaching changes had any impact on the blue line. We should already know these things by now.
It’s difficult to revert back to the way we felt at the end of the summer, after the draft, after the free agency frenzy, when changes in teams all over the league made us so eager for the next season to start. September is so far away from July! January is even farther.
Our enthusiasm won’t be the same as it was then, and only time will bring some of it back. While our resentment towards the many people involved in the lockout will remain for quite some time and our opinions of the NHL have been irreversibly changed in the worst way, it’s so good to finally talk hockey and analyze teams and players again!
So, let’s get started on the enthusiasm train! It was at about this time last year that the Blackhawks entered the black hole of their nine-game losing streak. January 20th, to be exact. But that was the last half of the season. This season, we only have the first half to play.
On January 20, 2012, the Blackhawks were leading the NHL with 64 points. However, the end of January and month of February tripped them up when they lost a league season record nine games in a row and the skills of Captain Jonathan Toews due to a head injury. Those dark times were only rectified by a strong team effort led by the healthy stars in the month of March when the Hawks earned 22 points.
If last season is any indication, a repeat of the first half would be ideal for the Blackhawks. We can do without a repeat of the last half.
January 19th cannot come soon enough!
What do you think: Will the Blackhawks put on a strong showing in the shortened season?