The Chicago Blackhawks are not quite what they used to be. Fans need to lower expectations and celebrate the little victories.
Outscoring their last four opponents 22-13, it triggers a state of nostalgia as it was only a few years ago that this was a common occurrence.
Then, the Blackhawks were a dominant dynasty that was expected to plow through the playoffs unscathed. If Chicago was to lose in any fashion during the playoffs and make an early exit, the city was left weeping not out of spite or anger but disappointment.
Nothing hurts more than when what you care about most, at such an intense level, lets you down. This feeling should not be demonized, but praised. This emotion shows that you care and that you have made an emotional investment in something.
The Chicago Blackhawks need that emotional investment more than ever right now and it starts with fans celebrating their small victories, both as a team and for individual players.
Lower Expectations Will Lead to Recognition of Smaller Victories
Smaller victories might include feats as little as stealing two points from a division rival (or any team at this point), seeing progression in young players and fixing those awful collars on the home sweaters.
The list is not short by any means. Feel free to let us know what small victories you keep track of but for the sake of space, and your eyes, only a few will be mentioned.
High Draft Pick in the Upcoming NHL Entry Level Draft
Another tank season, I know. It sucks. But there’s a positive there nonetheless.
In 2017 NHL Entry Level Draft, the Chicago Blackhawks selected Henri Jokiharju, a Finnish defenseman, to reinforce the blue line. Then in 2018 they selected Swedish defenseman Adam Boqvist eighth overall.
Boqvist has posted 37 points total (12 goals and 25 assists) in 36 games played with the London Knights of the OHL. Jokiharju, recently sent to the AHL to back up the blue line in Rockford, scored a goal in his debut with the Rockford IceHogs and has posted 12 assists in 37 games with the Blackhawks.
The decisions to allow these young players, who are already generating points and progression, develop elsewhere signals the investment in the future. The prospects for the upcoming draft is very forward heavy. Four of the top 10 point producers on the Blackhawks this year can play center. Dylan Strome and Domink Kahun are two of them and they are also the youngest.
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An investment in a young forward would greatly benefit the Blackhawks down the road. Definitely showing the potential to be a small victory.
Look to the Rising Stars
The future lies with the young players starting to find their way into Blackhawks sweaters. One particular player has stood out as reliable and is a great look to the future of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Delia has played 11 games this season with the Blackhawks and currently holds a 5-2-3 record. With a .922 SV% and 2.99 GAA, Delia has more than proven that he can handle a role as an NHL goalie, at least in the short term.
Assuming Bovquist and Jokiharju develop as planned, the future is bright in the Blackhawks defensive zone.
With a young forward core in development as well, the Blackhawks can begin piecing together a new arsenal of forwards, perhaps a sequel to the dominant forward cores from 2010, 2013 and 2015 and all of the years in between.
Don’t Forget the Current Stars
Jonathon Toews and Patrick Kane still have a lot of gas left in the tank. Kane, barring no missed games, will hit his 900th career NHL game this season and has the second most points in the league with 76 (31 goals and 45 assists).
Assuming that Kane continues his dominance (1.46 PPG), he is on pace for a record year of 116 points. This is 10 more than his current best which was achieved in the 2015-2016 season.
Additionally, Toews is having an impressive bounce-back season as well. He has already surpassed his goal total of 20 for the 2017-2018 season with 23. Furthermore, he is four assists away from tying his total last season with still 28 games to go. The fans needed Toews to step up and he did.
It’s Not All Bad
The Blackhawks are currently occupying the bottom spot in the Central Division. They are 28th in the league.
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While this season seems to be in the tank, fans can find solace in the smaller victories of future investment in players, the development of the Blackhawks young talent and the milestones current stars are working towards.
There is beauty in the broken.