Here we are. It’s April 1, and the Chicago Blackhawks have a record of 46-24-6. They currently sit in third place in the Central Division, with 98 points. With only 6 games left in the regular season, our boys in red, white, and black are once again pretty much guaranteed a playoff berth. The Hawks start April with a match up against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night. This is as good time to look back at how the team has fared so far in this final stretch, specifically the month of March.
There were 13 games in March, and Chicago’s record in that time was 9-3-1. This is significantly better than the month of February (6-4-3). The Hawks picked up 19 of 26 points in March, compared to 15 of 26 points in February.
Getting better as they go along? I’d say so, especially since they had to do so without the services of top scorer Patrick Kane. The loss of Kaner could be a blessing in disguise. It has forced everyone else to dig deep and find a way to step up and help the team. If they can continue rolling in this manner, when Kane comes back they could be very dangerous.
The month started out with a bang, featuring a 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on March 2nd. Jonathan Toews scored twice, along with Brandon Saad, Marcus Krueger, and Marian Hossa. The Hawks limped along from there, with a 2-1 win over Edmonton, a heart breaking overtime loss to the Rangers (still 1 point!), and a 2-1 win over Arizona.
On March 14, the Hawks were again able to bring on the scoring touch with a 6-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. The goal scorers? Patrick Sharp scored twice, breaking out of his recent slump. Here is a look at his first goal. Sharpy was joined with goals from Duncan Keith, Brandon Saad, Bryan Bickell, and an empty netter from Marian Hossa.
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Back to back wins over the New York Islanders and the New York Rangers was the highlight for the middle of the month. Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa both lit the lamp 2 times to help the United Center faithful celebrate their St. Patrick’s Day with a 4-1 victory over the Islanders.
The next 4 contests in late March were games that made fans question this team’s ability to get things done. The Hawks struggled offensively and defensively in one-sided losses to Dallas, Philadelphia, and Columbus. Their only win in this stretch was 3-1 victory over Carolina. They didn’t play well in that game either, and were lucky to come out with the win.
The most depressing thing about these four games is that the Hawks were competing against mid to low level teams, with only Dallas having a fleeting shot at the playoffs. A strong Stanley Cup contending team should be better than to play down to their competition, yet this is what we saw.
The end of March was topped off with back to back contests against the Winnipeg Jets and the LA Kings. Both these teams still have playoffs hopes, and are fighting for a wild card spot. They are also 2 teams that have given the Hawks a hard time in the past. Considering their recent play, many fans were very apprehensive about these match ups, myself included.
Boy did they prove us wrong! It was like a different team out there. The Winnipeg game was quite the nail-biter, but the Hawks were able to get it done with a 4-3 win. Goals came from Andrew Shaw, Brad Richards, and yes of course, none other than Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews (those two names have come up a lot in this article, haven’t they?).
We were all ready for the let down the next night against the LA Kings. After all, this was a back to back against the big and hard hitting defending Stanley Cup champs. No problem! I would say the Hawks saved the last game of the month to play their strongest game of the month, easily winning by a score of 4-1.
They looked like the better team all night, and played a complete 60 minute game. Even when Scott Darling let in an uncharacteristic soft goal late in the first, the Hawks didn’t panic and never let the Kings get back in the game.
Bryan Bickell scored, along with Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Marian Hossa. Here’s a look at Marian Hossa’s goal. That’s 2 forwards and 2 defensemen. The Hawks seem to be solving their scoring problems with strong contributions from the defense.
Well folks, there you have it. The Chicago Blackhawks had a good month of March, and are on a roll headed into April. Can they keep it up for their last 6 games? The race couldn’t be much tighter in the Central Division. With wins, the Hawks could easily catch up to the St. Louis Blues or even the Nashville Predators. With losses, they could fall into a wild card spot behind the Minnesota Wild or the Winnipeg Jets.
Don’t you just love this time of year? I predict a strong finish, with the Hawks ending up in second place. What is your prediction? Playoffs, here we come!
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