Jan 21, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalieCorey Crawford
(50) skates on the ice prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory
: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
#2 – A Corey Crawford Resurgence
It’s almost ironic at this point that Corey Crawford catches nearly as much criticism as hockey pucks. The latest round involved scrutiny of Crawford’s lack luster play upon returning from his concert-related injury. The reason for his injury was bad enough, and his uneven play afterward, well, that just didn’t sit well with lots of people in Chicago. At this point, Crawford should look at it as damn near endearing that he’s never given an inch when it comes to the excellence that’s expected of him. Regardless, the Disney Trip is a perfect chance for Crow to get his groove back. If Crawford can string together a few strong victories on hostile visitor ice, his concert folly will quickly become a distant memory. The Disney Trip will also provide an excellent chance for Antti Raanta to once again demonstrate he’s a reliable backup especially with the likes of Scott Darling now in contention for the roster spot. For all his talent, we all know how mentally fragile Crawford can be, so a solid Disney Trip performance will mentally go miles for Crow.
#1 – Reasserting Central Division Dominance
Perhaps the biggest difference between the Circus Trip and the Disney Trip are the destinations. While this year’s Circus Trip had the Blackhawks playing exclusively in a Pacific Division primarily occupied by teams in rebuilding phases, the Disney Trip has the Hawks in their own backyard for three straight games. The last three contests see the Hawks taking on three Central Division foes: Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues teams that have had playoff hopes dashed at the hands of the Blackhawks and will be looking to prove something, and the red-hot Winnipeg Jets that so far this season have had their way with the Hawks. Suffice it to say, these last three outing will be an utter gauntlet, and it’s a gauntlet that will have far reaching implications in the standings and the playoffs. Thus, it’s crucial for the Blackhawks to reassert their alpha status in their own division, and beating three Central Division teams in a row is the perfect opportunity.
Like the Circus Trip, at the end of the day, the Disney Trip is just another stretch of away games on paper. However, for all the aforementioned reasons and then some, it’s clearly a whole lot more for our Hawks. It’s time once again for the Blackhawks to rise to the challenges ahead of them and play like the champions we all know they are.
FOR THE DAGGER!