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Chicago Blackhawks: Obliteration of Penguins Was Not Accidental

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The Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane (88) and Ryan Hartman (38) celebrate after Hartman scores against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first period at the United Center in Chicago on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
The Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane (88) and Ryan Hartman (38) celebrate after Hartman scores against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first period at the United Center in Chicago on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Blackhawks claim they weren’t trying to run up the score against the Penguins Thursday night but a 10-1 victory over the defending champs sends a clear message around the league

Seven months ago, fans packed the United Center during the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to see their beloved Blackhawks hopefully embark on another Stanley Cup campaign, but they were sorely disappointed.  Not once were fans able to sing and dance to the tune of Chelsea Dagger as they witnessed their team get shut out twice on home ice.  Expectations were high for a team considered to be one of the NHL’s most recent dynasties but age and depth seemed to have caught up to the Blackhawks.

Over the summer, many of you may have noticed some extra Blackhawks promotion and marketing.  These efforts were clearly in response to the ‘Hawks front office not being happy with being a franchise on the downslope.  Jerseys were distributed on Metra trains, flash mobs were staged in downtown Chicago, and even their anthem singer popped up at the French Market for a surprise show.

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When business changes need to be made, they are generally changed company-wide.  We’ve all heard the saying that “changes come from the top down,” and in this case it’s clear that owner Rocky Wirtz wants to get back to competing for the Stanley Cup.  Ever since he took over ownership of the Blackhawks, they have made a franchise goal of being perennial cup competitors which has slipped the past couple years.

Coming into this season, there have been many questions about the team’s composition, mostly centered around the defense.  After being out-skated by a young and hungry Nashville team, Stan Bowman set out to rebuild his club by adding grit and youth.  And that was very noticeable in the Blackhawks home opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Wednesday night, the Penguins opened their season at home against the St. Louis Blues, a game that went to overtime with the Blues winning 5-4.  The defending Stanley Cup champions were lucky enough to get back-to-back games to start the season so they hopped on a charter flight to Chicago that night.

So here the Blackhawks were, a team that some analysts have picked to miss the playoffs.  A team that so many have questioned their ability to compete, yet maybe this was their golden opportunity.  With the defending champs coming into town probably tired from a long game with St. Louis, the ‘Hawks smelled blood in the water.

There is no doubt that the Blackhawks front office wanted the team to win this game, but it happened in an unexpected fashion.  Corey Crawford looked great in net, the defense didn’t spend too much time in their zone, and the transition game on offense was unstoppable.  Goals poured in against Antti Niemi and later Matt Murray seeming to represent some pent up aggression built up over the summer.

Next: Blackhawks Realistic, Unrealistic Expectations After 10-1 Win

The Blackhawks get to face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday with them also coming off a back-to-back game the night before.  A lot of people were concerned with the Blackhawks first leg of the schedule being against all 2017 playoff teams, but this “test” of the three-time Stanley Cup Champions may be seen by the ‘Hawks collective as more of an opportunity to show the league that they’re back rather than evidence that their time is done on top.

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