Chicago Blackhawks: Where Do We Go From Here?

By Tim Lively

Feb 24, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; The Florida Panthers and Chicago Blackhawks shove each other as Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) lies on the ice after being checked during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no doubt about it, the amount of drama that has unfolded for our beloved Chicago Blackhawks over the past few days has practically left us here are Blackhawk Up, and the City of Chicago for that matter, speechless.

It’s almost ironically cruel that the high point of this red, white, black roller coaster was the utterly devastating news yesterday that Patrick Kane will be out for at least 12 weeks to recuperate from a broken collarbone suffered the other night during the Hawks’ win against the Florida Panthers.

While the dust is far from settled from this ordeal, the most important question that needs to be answered, and needs to be answered now, is this: where do we go from here?

Obviously, Kaner’s absence creates a huge void of offensive firepower that the Blackhawks will have to fill. You may already have heard Teuvo Teravainen is on his way back to Chicago from the Rockford IceHogs, but we all know the young Finland native can only do so much at this point in his career.

There are also rumors abounding that Stan Bowman will make a trade to compensate for Kane’s injury. However, it would be far wiser for the Hawks’ GM to use whatever trading chips he may have for the acquisition of a new defensemen, given the Blackhawks’ ongoing issues at the blue line, but that’s a conversation for another day.

Instead, in the wake of Kane going down for the count, now is a time more than ever that the Hawks need to lean on the depth of their lower lines to make up for the offensive production that will be missing from the Hawks line-up.

Unfortunately, just such production has been lacking in the Blackhawks’ third and fourth lines  since January, which makes such a prospect somewhat nerve-racking. However, whatever the reasons for these lack luster performances on the lower lines as of late, it’s now completely irrelevant, because now is the time for all players wearing the indian-head sweater, no matter their position, to dig deep. The time for second guessing and feeling things out is officially over!

These are times when champions emerge from the contenders ladies and gentlemen! Kane’s absence will be difficult from a statistical standpoint sure, but the far more devastating blow is to the Blackhawks’ morale.As one of, if not the most prominent faces of the franchise, Kane’s injury is the morale-equivalent of a Blackhawks jersey on fire. It is now up to the rest of Kaner’s teammates to rally under this burning banner and demonstrate their true moxie and resourcefulness and find ways to win.

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Let us not forget that the Blackhawks have been in this situation before. Last year on the eve of the playoffs the Hawks lost both Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to injury (albeit not for 12 weeks), and they found ways to rally and win in their push towards the post season.

When Kane was injured last year, I emphasized that it would prove to be a tremendous opportunity for other Hawks players to stand and deliver in new and amazing ways. With Kane gone, there is more ice time, and therefore more opportunity for lower line players to emerge as major contributors, and above all else, gain more confidence in their play, which the Blackhawks will sorely need up and down their roster for the foreseeable future.

How can they accomplish this? Getting back to the basics, reasserting their cast-iron discipline, and remembering their “One Goal” are good places to start, but it will take more than that…

One thing about the Blackhawks, is that when presented with various tests of their character and caliber as a team (prolonged road trips, player injuries, playoff series deficits, etc.), they’ve demonstrated time and again their ability to overcome adversity and come out on top. Those were tests however. This latest injury to Patrick Kane’s is more like a final exam.

That being said however, the good news is the Blackhawks have already taken the first step towards finding ways to win sans #88. On the very night of Kane’s injury, Patrick Sharp‘s game-winning goal helped the Hawks grab a win via shootout without the usual aid of Kane’s patented stick-handling acrobatics.

The aforementioned aside, the hard reality is this: the Hawks are at the foot of perhaps the steepest and most rugged mountain in recent memory.  As fans, we need to make it known that we have the Blackhawks’ back every step of the way as they attempt to surmount this monumental obstacle now in their way to returning to the Stanley Cup Finals, because frankly,  they’re going to need support wherever it can be found. Time for Chi-Town to oblige…