Look out for Sidney Brown’s weekly dispatches from the front lines of Blackhawks fandom every week during the hockey season.
What a difference a week makes…well, sort of.
After their lack luster effort against the Minnesota Wild on Oct. 26, I called out the team and their issues that needed to be addressed. As the old saying goes, winning cures everything. The Hawks turned around this past week and were victorious in three out of four games, including a bounce-back 5-1 victory against the Wild on the road last Monday, in what could be classified as a true 60 minute game where they dominated from the start. The highlight from that game came from second-year phenom Brandon Saad — aka the Manchild — who delivered a sweet behind the back pass to a wide open Patrick Kane for a goal that would eventually put the Wild away.
The next night against the Ottawa Senators was a different story. Hawks backup goalie Nikolai Khabibulin gave up four goals in front of the home fans and later was pulled. Though the Hawks would come back to win 5-4, thanks to captain Jonathan Toews capping off the night with his third career hat trick, Khabibulin’s problems have come to the forefront for those following the Hawks. In his second run with the Hawks, Khabibulin has found himself in a position where he’s getting more attention than he may have bargained for when he re-signed with the team. Heaven forbid something happens to Corey Crawford? Where will the Hawks be if they are left with a back-up playing so woefully? I know that Khabibukin has played three games but that’s getting close to a trend — if this keeps up, there’s going to be problems down the road.
Coming into this past weekend, the Hawks were 4-0 in back to back games this season. In two games against Canadian teams Saturday and Sunday, the Hawks dominated at the Winnipeg Jets but lost the following game at home to the young Calgary Flames in overtime.
The Hawks’ offense has picked it up as of late, scoring 18 goals in their last four games. The Hawks also have scored five goals in their last three straight games and four of their last six games. This scoring hot streak now puts Chicago third in the NHL in goals per game (3.4). Also, their power play has improved, now ranking ninth in the league with a success percentage of 21.2.
The Hawks record stands at 9-2-4 and with the calender now turning to November, the Hawks enter a stretch against some of the top teams in the Western Conference with the likes of San Jose, Vancouver, Dallas and Colorado coming their way. Four more sets of back to back games come in November including five home games and 10 road games including a seven-game road trip at the end of the month. This group of games should do much to tell the tale of where the Hawks really fit in this season’s Western Conference.
*To captain Jonathan Toews for delivering his third career hat trick versus Ottawa on Oct. 29 in a 5-4 win.
*To winger Brandon Bollig for netting his first career multi-point game versus the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, Bollig scored one goal and one assist in the Hawks’ 5-1 win.
*To the fourth liners — Ben Smith, Marcus Kruger and Bollig — for collecting five points total against Winnipeg.
Compare & Contrast
First 15 Games of the Regular Season
2013: 12-0-3 record; Goals per game: 3.36; Opponents GPG: 1.86
2013-14: 9-2-4; Goals per game: 3.43; Opponents GPG: 2.64
Team Leaders: Goals — Jonathan Toews (7); Assists — Duncan Keith (9); Points — Toews (13); Goals Against Average — Corey Crawford (2.12); Penalty Minutes — Brandon Bollig (27).
The Week Ahead (11/04-11/11)
Wednesday vs. Winnipeg Jets — 7 PM
Saturday @ Dallas Stars — 7 PM
Sunday vs. Edmonton Oilers — 6:30 PM
Bonus — Hawks make White House visit
Here’s some words from President, and devoted Chicago sports fan, Barack Obama from Monday’s visit from the 2013 Stanley Cup champs.
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