Sidney Brown brings his weekly dispatches from the front lines of Blackhawks fandom every week during the hockey season.
This past week for the Blackhawks, a rough one to say the least, makes their upcoming road trip a potential crash landing.
Following an 0-2-1 stretch that started with a 5-4 loss to Detroit and didn’t get any better from there, the Hawks now head out for their annual “Disney On Ice” road trip which includes Western Conference contenders in bulk — Anaheim, the LA Kings, Vancouver and San Jose to name a few.
Chicago is putting major adversity on itself with its recent play — a 1 for 20 ratio on the power play in the last three games, Corey Crawford giving up bad goals that helped define the losses to Detroit and Winnipeg, not stepping up and taking control when the games were truly on the line in overtime and in shootouts (0-5 record in overtime, 5-7 in shootouts) — the Hawks are lucky to have a 32-10-12 record (76 points), only trailing Anaheim for the overall points lead in the Western Conference.
With the points system as it is, the Hawks have only kept from losing more ground amongst the contenders by simply surviving the latter parts of games and making them go to overtime and shootouts, garnering the team at least one point. Only four other NHL teams (Detroit, New Jersey, Phoenix and Ottawa) have double digits in overtimes and shootouts, the Hawks lead all them with 12 — of those other four teams, none have more than 57 points and none are better than fifth in their respective divisions.
Of these 12 games a good deal of them featured the Hawks with leads in regulation. This is a team that can be doing much better than it is currently. Anaheim, by the way, only has five losses in OT and shootouts.
Road Trip Schedule
Tuesday — at Calgary, 8:30 PM; Wednesday — at Vancouver, 9:30 PM; Saturday — at San Jose, 9:30 PM; Monday (2/3) — at L.A. Kings, 9:30 PM; Wednesday (2/5) — at Anaheim, 9 PM; Friday (2/7) — at Phoenix, 8 PM.
*First, to Mr. Patrick Kane for playing in his 500th game in the NHL Sunday against Winnipeg. Think of how many athletes in Chicago have played 500 games and think of how many can claim the successes Kane has, he’s definitely on the list of this city’s sports royalty and he still is only 25 years old. With 24 goals and 35 assists this season, Kane is well on his way to MVP considerations.
*Next, props to the NHL Outdoor Series games, which this weekend featured games between the Anaheim Ducks and LA Kings at Dodger Stadium and the New York Rangers against the New Jersey Devils at Yankee Stadium. Neither game was a nail biter, but it was very nice to see different venues and such meaningful venues host hockey games, pushing the sport in a different kind of spotlight.
As a Blackhawks fan, I can’t wait until March 1st in Soldier Field when the Hawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second to last game of the Series. It should be a great game, with some of the top players in the NHL skating on the lakefront.
Team Leaders (Entering Sunday): Goals — Patrick Sharp (26); Assists — Duncan Keith (43); Points — Patrick Kane (59); Goals Against Average — Antti Raanta (2.24); Penalty Minutes — Brandon Bollig (67).
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