LONG ISLAND – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – actually here in Chicago, it doesn’t. There isn’t any snow and to be honest, it isn’t terribly cold. But if it isn’t looking an awful lot like Christmas, it certainly is beginning to look a lot like 2013!
Whenever the Chicago Blackhawks meet the Los Angeles Kings, for example, it’s fun, high paced and for the most part really good hockey – but when the Blackhawks roll into towns like Montreal, Vancouver, Minnesota, and Boston… as they did two nights ago, the atmosphere is just quite a bit different. The reasoning… those towns care, love, and bleed just as much for their clubs, as Chicago bleeds black and red.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Chicago Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup! They’ve won the Stanley Cup!”
Rewind with me if you will to June 24, 2013. That shouldn’t be a difficult day for any Hawks fan to recall. June 24th, 2013 marked Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final and for Hawks fans… it was the day the Cup was packed up and ready to ride to Chicago for Game 7 – but was unpacked 17 seconds later. Even if you didn’t know the story and just knew the Hawks, you’d imagine some late game heroics similar to those that transpired.
Chicago and most specifically, the Chicago Blackhawks have a deep romance with adversity, tenacity, and overall strength – period. Pack as many pounds, struggles, mountains to climb onto our big shoulders… we can handle it – the Chicago Blackhawks can handle it.
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This morning the Hawks mark is 8 in a row, a winning streak that leads the league for 2015 and they’ll look to add to it on Long Island this evening. Did you notice what I said there? I said the league’s best in 2015, for that reason alone; there isn’t any reason to believe the hawks have any intention of slowing down now. Year after year in Chicago, there are people that have difficulty understanding why it takes a few moments for the Hawks to get the ball rolling – to get off to the races like we all expect of them from day one. Allow me to explain a few things about this team, and more over, an 82 game regular season.
The Chicago Blackhawks have a deep organization, that’s nothing new to anyone. The Chicago Blackhawks have won two Stanley Cups inside five seasons that also, is nothing new. The Captain of the Chicago Blackhawks has two gold medals… well you get the point, they’re Champions.
So why is it that unless the Hawks are in the middle of an 8 game win streak, or up by at least two games in the post season, or running away with the division… that the entire world can’t understand that it takes a minute for a group of guys like this to get going. After playing so many games that, for lack of a better term, don’t mean anything – excuse the Hawks for needing a little, ah… “umph” to get them going.
It’s only fitting that when the league starts to take notice, the broadcasters start to take notice and the public starts to take notice that these twenty two men take notice. And it seems that when these twenty two men take notice… they’re well versed in being receptive.
There isn’t much to play for in October or November, other than getting out to a decent start. With that said, there isn’t much going on in December, January or February either – unless of course, a team’s streaking. Well, I don’t need to repeat that the Blackhawks are on all levels.
It seems that when the Hawks show up to play, the games mean something. Whether it’s a matchup against the team that bounced them from the post season a year ago, or returning to the scene of their 17 Second crimes, the likes of which even a lifetime criminal couldn’t pull off… they come to play. But right now, their most glaring attribute is the resemblance to the regular season they had when they last hoisted the Cup in 2013.
In 2013, the Hawks were simply dominant; forget that it was a shortened season due to the lockout. They came out of the gates and set a NHL record of games in which they recorded a point – the mark is 24. After achieving that mark, and being brought back down to earth, the Hawks settled in and just played darn good hockey.
In fact, their current streak is the longest the Hawks have recorded since winning eleven straight from February 15 – March 6 in 2013. To continue, the Hawks have posted five straight road wins since… well you guessed it, November of 2013. I don’t think it needs to be spelled out that when the Hawks get going, they sure do get going and if the results are anything similar… well, Grant Park better make sure Lollapalooza doesn’t want to come to town early this year.
Currently, the Hawks not only own the longest win streak but also are the first club to have reached the twenty win plateau. Good enough for second in the league above St. Louis, Nashville, Tampa Bay, New York, Pittsburgh, Montreal, and way above the Defending Champion Los Angeles Kings. The Hawks are on pace to set a new Penalty Kill record with an over 90% success rate, and though they didn’t set a mark in 2013, the tandem of Ben Smith and Marcus Kruger have combined for an even better tandem than Frolik and Kruger did in 2013.
The hawks are also at the top of the league in shots on goal a game, goals against, Penalty minutes, save percentage… seriously, they’re just at the top and it’s not just the stats – they’re playing like their roster looks on paper… simply dominant. Why? Well, there’s something to play for, something to help get them through the mundane regular season and most importantly, something to prove.
When the Hawks hit the ice tonight in Long Island, the story won’t be any different. They’ll be looking to extend to nine games straight, to extend their shorthanded minutes without a goal, their goaltenders will continue to show when Crawford’s gone they’re alright. Everything is a statement and the Hawks love to make statements – I’m quite confident tonight won’t be any different.
Breathe easy Chicago, put a smile on your face… the Hawks may not have the most points in the league right now, but they sure as hell are still the most electrifying, tenacious and talented team in hockey. If history was to prove itself, there’s no slowing down now!
Follow the Hawks @Blackhawk_Up and follow me @ZRaderstorf
HAWKS VS ISLANDERS 6PM CST.