10 Thoughts, Three Weeks Into the Chicago Blackhawks Season.
Chicago Blackhawks forwardJonathan Toews
(19) during the third period against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. The Vancouver Canucks won 3-2 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
1. Patrick Kane is on a Mission
Patrick Kane had a disappointing season last year even with two of the best shoot-out goals of last season. He then found more bad press during the summer by basically acting his age and not his responsibility. Kane did the grown up thing and played overseas and seemed to find his game again. While the first two weeks haven’t been very physical games, Kane in open ice has been deadly from scoring or setting up his teammates. It almost seems unbelievable that he has been rumored as trade bait at the trade deadline and on draft days. A full 48 games of this type of effort could be extraordinary!
2. The Blackhawks benefited more than anyone else from the lockout
Marian Hossa didn’t have to rush back from his concussion to jump back into the lineup at the original beginning of the season in October. A healthy Hossa not only has been lift for the Hawks, but it has been almost unexpected. Although Toews made it back for the Coyotes series the extended off season was a blessing in disguise. Toews and Hossa look like they haven’t missed a beat and the Blackhawks record is proof of this.
3. Daniel Carcillo injury helped Quenneville out.
No injury is a good injury especially in a compact shortened season, but being able to get Brandon Saad into the lineup and making him comfortable without the threat of the lineup hook over his head has been great for Saad’s development. Saad has played better and better each game and if history in juniors and minors says anything, big things on the score-sheet should be on the horizon for Saad.
4. Andrew Shaw is starting to turn the corner.
For the first 8 games it was shocking to see Shaw play especially after last years breakout rookie campaign. He looked like the worst Hawk on the ice most nights and yet he was still on the first unit power play. Maybe Coach Q saw something we at home didn’t see, Shaw has played better the last week scoring two goals and setting up Viktor Stalberg‘s goal to break the scoring ice in Phoenix.
5. Every Line is Contributing
Getting goals from every line is a coach’s dream and the Hawks are providing sweet dreams for Coach Q. Yes the big guns are getting most of the goals, but the bottom line guys are getting on the score-sheet too. The best thing to me is when Bryan Bickell and Jamal Mayers are hitting people which has led to a uncharacteristically amount of games which the Hawks have out hit the opposition.
6. Ray Emery stole the Flames game
After looking extremely uncomfortable against the Coyotes in Game 2, Emery absorbed 45 of 47 shots and stole the Flames game when Marian Hossa tied it with 2.1 seconds left and Kane scored the only tally in O.T. Having two goalies to count on in the shortened season is probably the Coach’s 2nd favorite dream.
7. The Power Play Could Still Be the Achilles Heel
Yes we saw two power play goals Thursday night (they both were 5 on 3) and the Hawks have scored 9 PP goals this season but they are still only scoring at a rate of 18% which is not spectacular. The Hawks still need to get more consistent which could come in the form of the United Center Ice. The problem is when everything tightens up come playoff time, scoring on the power play chances has to happen or you end up golfing instead of advancing in the playoffs.
8. Doing Nothing Is Paying Off
After two consecutive trade deadlines which the Hawks did nothing spectacular and many were calling for Bowman’s head, his plan is starting to show it true self. After the Stanley Cup, Bowman chose to lock down the stars and rebuild the rest of the roster and organization. So instead of making a swing for the fences trade, Bowman has filled up the organization with talent and now the Hawks after two disappointing seasons are now poised to make a big run without having to make a big splash.
9. The Penalty Kill is Special
All the stars play on the unit so you cannot single anyone out but of the bottom six Michael Frolik has been playing great PK hockey as well as playing well on his line. The penalty kill is still 1st in the NHL which is tremendous with so many early road games. Momentum can change quite easily especially in the opponents building so shutting down the power play has to be a major recipe for this fast start of the Blackhawks.
10. The Fans Never Left
CSN has had record ratings since the lockout ended. Football season over and a hot start by the Blackhawks created a perfect viewership start from Blackhawks fans. I thought the young fans could possibly turn their backs on hockey but this doesn’t seem to be the case. Granted only two games have been played at the United Center but I don’t expect a game not sold out this season whether the Hawks started out 9-0-2 or not.
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Final Thought- THANKS for Reading and Go Hawks!!