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Chicago Blackhawks’ Top Line Ignites

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Feb 26, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate their victory following the game against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Chicago won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 26, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate their victory following the game against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Chicago won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Blackhawks have become a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference, and with four lines all contributing, the odds of playoff success are increasing.

The Chicago Blackhawks managed to have a very successful February winning nine games out of the possible ten. It appears as though the Blackhawks are truly finding themselves at just the right time with the Western Conference still as wide open as ever. Contributions have come from all over the place and the overall moral of the Blackhawks is far from peaking due to recent success. With the reemergence of the Blackhawks’ top line and the ever so consistent bottom six continuing to thrive, things are certainly looking up with the month of March upon us.

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In this week’s “Who’s Hot, Who’s Not”, the struggle to find players or specific categories of the Blackhawks who digressed was all too real. I’m only human, ‘Hawks’ fans! From top to the bottom, the ‘Hawks have looked absolutely solid.

The Chicago Blackhawks have done a complete 360 and look to be firing on all cylinders at just the right time. Let’s take a look at who has and who hasn’t been helping the cause.

Who’s Hot: Blackhawks’ Top Line

 Who ever said Christmas doesn’t come twice a year apparently doesn’t understand how badly we Blackhawks’ fans have searched for answers since Brandon Saad’s departure. Seriously though, what hasn’t worked for the top line? The trio of Schmaltz, Toews, and Panik have done a marvelous job of reminding us of the good old days, and look to have solidified themselves as the only other set in stone line for Chicago.

It felt like just yesterday that many suggested the trade of Jonathan Toews and how over priced the captain is. I’m sure glad that ship has sailed!

What Jonathan Toews does for the Chicago Blackhawks is impossible to replicate. That is why seeing Tazer get hot and rack up some points has been so entertaining. Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik have really brought out the best in Toews, and vice versa.

For once in two years, it looks as though the top line will remain the same given the recent success. Nick Schmaltz has not only chipped in his share of goals but looks to be the playmaker of the future. The rookie’s vision is on display every game along with his two-way skill set. The new line mates have shown literally no signs of slowing up as the ‘Hawks have their eyes set on their seventh cup.

Who’s Not: Trevor van Riemsdyk

 TVR hasn’t been terrible, but he shows on many occasions that he’s not the most reliable defenseman that the Chicago Blackhawks possess. With the void left from Niklas Hjalmarsson’s injury, TVR will be forced to assume more minutes and opportunities normally taken by Hjammer. That’s definitely nerve-wrecking if I do say so myself.

In the past two contests, TVR has seen over 20 minutes in each game. It’s puzzling because Coach Q would normally sit anyone with as many turnovers as the young defenseman. Maybe he sees something we don’t?

Who’s Hot: Patrick Kane

Chicago Blackhawks

 We just can’t get Kaner off the “hot list” can we? Currently in fourth place for the NHL points lead, Patrick Kane continues to pave the way for Chicago Blackhawks with his team lead 65 points.

With five points this past week including a hat trick against the Arizona Coyotes, Kaner continues to his ever so consistent game on the offensive end. Kane’s playmaking ability along with his soft scoring touch makes him one of the most dangerous skaters in the league.

Who’s Not: Marcus Kruger

 Although Kruger’s lack of point production is nothing new, the penalty killer has seen his playing time diminish over the past few games. It’s without a question that Kruger’s game is based almost entirely on a defensive level of play, but he’s becoming very unnoticeable.

In Kruger’s last three games, the Swede has played just barely over 10 minutes per game including a 9:53 outing in the 4-2 victory over St. Louis. While this isn’t full reason to declare Kruger a player who is off his game, newcomer Tanner Kero is definitely outshining him.

Who’s Hot: Stan Bowman

 You can call him what you will. Mastermind? Hockey Guru? Bowman has been responsible for many huge deals that have proven highly rewarding for the Chicago Blackhawks and this trade deadline saw a few more. Although Bowman made it very known that he was content with his group of guys and didn’t see any blockbuster moves coming, he still made a couple solid deals.

The Chicago Blackhawks will welcome back Johnny Oduya after being dealt by the Dallas Stars for Mark McNeill and a conditional 4th round pick in 2018. The deal means that the Blackhawks are deeper at the defensive position than they’ve been in a long time. Oduya has a strong familiarity with the Blackhawks system and joins his old squad for another attempt to lift the cup.

Next: Chicago Blackhawks’ Johnny Oduya Addition Addresses Key Need

The deal with the Detroit Red Wings for Tomas Jurco will be viewed as a really solid deal as Jurco grows accustomed to his new team. Given Jurco’s size and ability, the bottom six for the Chicago Blackhawks makes it look as though Stan Bowman has solved the depth issue.

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