Jan 21, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; The Chicago Blackhawks players celebrate after defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in a shootout at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory
: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
So amidst all the fanfare of the NHL All Star weekend, it’s fallen under many-a-radar in Hawks Nation that today, our beloved Chicago Blackhawks will be embarking on yet another six game road trip this season (well seven if you want to count their game in Pittsburg against the Penguins before the All Star break).
It’s well known every year the Blackhawks clear out of the United Center for two weeks in November while the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus pays their annual visit to Chi-Town. Now at the end of January, the Blackhawks will be on the road again for six straight games while Disney on Ice occupies the Madhouse on Madison to put on their production of Frozen. Spoiler alert: Chazz Michael Michaels is not one of the performers (I checked).
There’s a reason most years this prolonged excursion aka the Disney Trip by and large doesn’t register with most Hawks fans, and that’s because when it occurs; right in the thick of the dog days of the season when for the most part, our Blackhawks are a proven quantity and people are eager for the post season to begin.
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While the Disney Trip might not quite be the same pH test as the Circus Trip for the Hawks, it’s still critically important in helping them refine essential qualities becoming of a championship-caliber team.
Prior to the Circus Trip, I identified three attributes the Hawks needed to gain during their extended hiatus from Chicago: confidence, the ability to succeed in the face of prolonged adversity, and learning to sustain that success.
After finishing the Circus Trip 5-1 this year, the Hawks demonstrated they possessed those aforementioned characteristics and on the Disney Trip, they will have a chance to solidify them. However, the Disney Trip will also provide the Blackhawks with the opportunity to develop and fortify three other aspects of their game:
#3 – Season the Scandinavian Surge
Between Trevor van Riemsdyk and now Kris Versteeg being placed on the long-term IR and the six game suspension of Daniel Carcillo, the Blackhawks have more holes in their roster than they did during the Circus Trip, and have turned to Scandinavian solutions: Tim Erixon, David Rundblad, Dennis Rasmussen, and Joakim Nordstrom from Sweden and Finland native Teuvo Teravainen. This slew of new players to crack the Hawks’ roster has more than just geography in common. They’re also all under twenty five, and (with the exception of Teravainen) boast frames over 6 feet. Suffice it to say the Hawks have had a nice injection of youth and size, but it’s on the Disney Trip that they must learn how to utilize this advantage. Unfortunately another common trait among these young North men is their relatively limited NHL exposure, and while six straight away games may be trial by blowtorch, it’ll make these neophytes (and for that matter the coaching staff) learn quickly, which is imperative to the Hawks’ success. While these young players may be only playing supporting roles now, we all know how quickly that can change in the NHL, and it’ll be good to know after road trip, the Blackhawks will have some proven reserves they can rely upon when they’re in the midst of the playoffs if need be.