Chicago, IL — Led by their captain Jonathan Toews, the Chicago Blackhawks had a week that saw them literally emerging from the phone booth like mild mannered Clark Kent and turn into a team of supermen. The per verbal switch you could say was definitely switched to the full blast on position and it all started with the captain.
Yes the Canadian dream initiated a Chicago yearning. For much of this 2015 year most Hawks fans have been clamoring for the Hawks to play, well like the Hawks and separate themselves from the rest of the pack and starting in Winnipeg that is exactly what they have done. They went into that game as Wild cards and came out putting the competition in the rear and now have a chance to even win their division.
Jonathan Toews in a matter of a week scored three game winning goals and assisted on another one. In the game against the Winnipeg Jets he crushed the hopes of his hometown with a deflected shot from the point with .30 seconds left in regulation to seal the win and a very valuable two points for the Blackhawks.
He then went on to assist on Duncan Keith’s game winning goal against the defending Stanley Cup Champ LA Kings in the following game. Was he through? No against the Vancouver Canucks, a team who also is needing of points to stay afloat in the Pacific scored the game winning goal to again seal a Hawks victory in regulation.
Perhaps though the most dramatic was the two goals he scored against the Buffalo Sabres in the closing minutes of the
game to again gather valuable points and he has now positioned this team to make a legitimate run at the division title. Even his coach said that he is driven by something other players are not.
It always seems that Jonathan Toews knows exactly what is needed by his team and when but he’ll be the first to tell you it isn’t all him. With the absence of Patrick Kane alot of things have happened to put the Hawks where they currently are. Make no mistake though it is Toews that is leading this. It is only fitting he is a Bauer representative because he and the Hawks truly know what “owning the moment” is all about.
So what else has gotten the Hawks here? Let’s take a look.
Andrew Shaw has consistently found the front of the oppositions nets and has established permanent residence there. Now he is taking a beating but Shaw knows that is where you get dirty goals, provide distractions, get in the opponents heads and provide screens for your team mates. If Shaw continues this and picks and chooses his spots the Hawks will be in good shape.
Corey Crawford what can you say about this guy. My Lord he has been spectacular and probably the most consistently good player on the ice. He has literally kept this team in the running since returning from injury. Many nights when the Hawks defensive game was floundering he stood on his head and kept the team in games.
Marian Hossa – another guy what can you say, even if the goals are not going in the net he plays a solid 200 ft. game that can in fact dictate a game. The game against the Kings he and Jonathan Toews were stifling on the back check even the Kings had to give them props.
Brandon Saad – His speed is a game changer for sure and he has and is learning from the best being on a line with Toews and Hossa. He is just now beginning to put everything together in his young career. Lately on a line with Shaw and Bickell, this kid is a monster.
Bryan Bickell – It is getting to that point in the year when Bicks shines. If he gets to the net like line mate Andrew Shaw with his big frame his goals will pick up. Look for Bicks to turn it up.
Patrick Sharp – is finding the back of nets and his mojo which is bad news for the opposition. When Sharp gets going he is like a goal scoring express train that can not be stopped
Scott Darling – talk about rise from the ashes like a Phoenix. The guy never seems to get rattled and just quietly comes in and takes care of business for the team. It’s nice to know you have that kind of reliability in net.
The Defensive core – Johnny Oduya since coming back from injury seems like a new man. Not sure what happened in his time off but Johnny please share with the rest of us because we’d all like to be rejuvenated like that.
Duncan Keith – is finding his offensive touch and has been scoring goals of late which will be needed from the defenseman to make up for the loss of Kane.
Brent Seabrook paired with Kimmo Timonen has been the ultimate team guy and always is. He has stepped up big time to allow Timonen the time to get his legs and game back. Seabrook as usual just goes about his business in solid as a rock fashion. Kimmo Timonen is starting to get his legs and rhythm back and the man is solid positionally and everyone can learn about the art of the pinch from him.
Nik Hjalmarsson the warrior, continues to do what he does. I still think they need to check to make sure that his body is not made of steel like the terminator’s endoskeleton. He also has been jumping in on plays.
Brad Richards, Antoine Vermette and Kris Versteeg line – are getting close to a break out. Richards and Vermette are still getting comfortable with the Hawks system but seem more comfortable every game and playing with each other.
The fourth line of Marcus Kruger, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrew Desjardins seem to be providing offensive punch to go along with the stellar defensive play which will be key to keeping other teams guessing and honest. This line seems to have hit it off quickly with a combination of grit, skill and solid 2 way play.
The Hawks had an outstanding week and will probably need another one facing the St. Louis Blues twice and the Minnesota Wild. Is it necessary they win these games? No but it is a good tune up for the playoffs and fine tuning and executing your team game. The Hawks still need to work on turn overs in their own zone and giving up too many shots on their net minders but when the big moments need them to rise and stand tall if last week showed the Hawks fans anything it is that this team still can.