Chicago Blackhawks – Guess who’s back, back again


Photo by Maggie Avila

Photo by Maggie Avila

Chicago, Il — The Blackhawks don’t have an alternate ego like Eminem’s Slim Shady, but they can sure use his song as their team anthem after every Stanley Cup.

“Guess who’s back, back again, Shady’s (Blackhawks) are back tell a friend “1 every time people write them off here they come storming back again with a vengeance.

The Hawks may have struggled a bit in the beginning of the season but they are serving the league notice that they are back and they fully intend on battling to defend their Stanley Cup Champion title.

They are the darlings of the league and with very good reason. The Chicago Blackhawks can be summed up in one word – excellence.

When you have opposing coaches and organizations looking at you saying how good you are and saying that is what we want to become one day you’re doing something right.

Currently in the midst of another streak of eleven game wins coming back from the hockey hot bed of Canada. The Hawks left Canadian radio stations buzzing with how far away their teams are and what a Stanley Cup Champion looks like and should look like. Even through all the re-tooling the Hawks are still a force and perhaps one that is even more imposing for several reasons.

The Hawks left Canada with Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock fawning over how great a team they are. The fans got a glimpse of what the Kane, Panarin & Anisimov show is about and left Toronto radio saying it just isn’t fair the Hawks got Artemi Panarin. This maybe true but as a hockey fan it’s good for the game to have that line together.  That line shows you what the highest level of the game can look like.

The Hawks beat the Montreal Canadiens twice in a short span and left Habs coach Therrien saying “We just played the Stanley Cup champion – and I believe they look better than last year.” Montreal fans and radio are now calling for his head because they don’t know what to do with their team after seeing how far away they are.

In mid November the Hawks were not looking all that impressive. At that time they were 9 points out of first and in 5th place the last wild card spot by December they were 11 games back of division leading Dallas but were in third instead of fifth spot. This just illustrates in two weeks how quickly things can change.

Now in mid January the Hawks are sitting atop the West and their division and seem to be rolling.

For all the talk of the Hawks and their inconsistency which, is true sometimes in games and from game to game, they are consistent. They actually have a better record now than they did at this point last year when they won the Cup.

48 games in this year the Hawks are 31-13-4 with 66 points. Last year they were 30-16-2  with 62 points with all the changes and fighting a Stanley Cup hangover and off-season issues it is amazing they are where they are.

That is a testament to the players, coaches, training staff and front office. As a Blackhawks fan I just smile and marvel at what they are doing. I feel very fortunate to be witnessing the golden era of this organization.

When I see that second line do things that are near impossible for most NHL talents pull off with such ease and creativity they make me smile.  When I see Corey Crawford battle like he does to keep his net clean I smile.

When I see Andrew Shaw on the first line running around battling for pucks I smile. Every time I see the scars on Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa’s faces I smile because I know they are leaving it all out there on the ice for Chicago, for me as a fan.

When I see that third and fourth lines battle in corners and be relentless on the puck I smile. When Scott Darling comes in after not playing for days and battles it makes me smile.

When I see the defenseman all of them and how they each bring different elements to the blue line I really smile because I know come playoff time they will ratched it up even more. Their gaps, blocks, stick work and skills are just really sights to behold.

When I see the coaches spin their magic particularly with the special teams and specifically the power play I smile.

When I see the fun they are all having now I get a big smile. Yes I smile a lot when watching and thinking about the Chicago Blackhawks and I do appreciate every moment because I know this is rare.

It is possible that the Hawks are even better than they were last year due to Crawford looking  like he is the same or better than last year and should be in Vezina talks.  Patrick Kane is having another career year and should win the Hart which hopefully this time he will stay healthy for the entire year.

Artemi Panarin should win the Calder he’s a phenom & yes he’s 24 but he has never played on North American ice.

But maybe the biggest contribution has come from the front office in scouting and trading. Stan Bowman bringing in Anisimov and Dano for Saad which, at the time you were just hopeful as a fan would work out. Now I doubt there are many fans that would und0 this trade. Anisimov so far has exceed all expectations and then some.

The scouting staff in Europe finding Gustafsson and even though Panarin was not a secret to most  Stan Bowman still had to close the deal which he did. Both Gustafsson and Panarin have been crucial in this re-tooling.

Why this team maybe even better than last year is because of all the young guys who will be around for a long time have stepped up and in without really missing a beat. Somehow the Hawks keep finding the right pieces and the coaches and the core schools them up immediately.

The Hawks are only just a little over half way through the season and there is a lot of hockey left to be played but they have put themselves in a good position. To make the playoffs as they are currently 18 points above the final wild card spot in the west maybe more important than being atop the Central.

The Hawks have 14 games left against Central division opponents and those will be imperative as this is the division where they have struggled and every game is a four point game rather than two points.

Remarkably the Hawks have not lost yet in 2016 but at some point they will. Unlike most teams though you know they will bounce back and how you know this is Patrick Kane’s comments.

It was Kane’s comment but you know he speaks for the locker room and every player in there when he said the Hawks are happy where they are at but not satisfied and that should make every Hawks fan smile. If they think they can be better, and they can be, there still are other levels they can get to – look out. Yes the Hawks are back again.

1- Marshall Mathers aka Eminem song Without Me from the album the Eminem Show released May of 2002 on Interscope

 

 

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