Sidney Brown brings his weekly dispatches from the front lines of Blackhawks fandom every week during the hockey season.
Let the good times roll…well, sort of.
Despite splitting their last four games, the Chicago Blackhawks still stand at the top of the Central Division with a record of 23-10-2, two standing points ahead of the Nashville Predators. On Tuesday night the team’s home winning streak was snapped at eight games by the Winnipeg Jets.
During the recent home winning streak, the Hawks scored a total of 33 goals while giving up a total of 14 goals, improving their overall record at the United Center to 12-4-1 on the year. During the month of December there have been a number of Hawks who have turned the corner to make the Men in Red the most dangerous team in the Western Conference. Let’s take a look at their performances in the past five games.
1) Patrick Sharp — Ever since his return from injury, Sharp has found his way back onto the scoring column with consistency. With his production on the third line, expect Sharp in no time to move back to the second line. Last five games: 2 goals, 3 assists = 5 points.
2) Jonathan Toews — Captain Serious is the leader of the pack and has been moving on the ice in rapid fashion while finding his teammates in stride. For the month of December, Toews has tallied 3 goals along with 7 assists. Last five games: 2 goals, 4 assists.
3) Patrick Kane — The team leader in every category has displayed his skill and scoring ability anchoring the second line, including a 3-point performance (2 assists) in a 4-0 shutout victory over Toronto and another 3-point performance in a 5-3 win last Tuesday against Minnesota (2 assists). Last five games: 3 goals, 6 assists.
For the month, Kane has a total of 6 goals and 7 assists for a total of 13 points. Can anyone say MVP?
4) Brent Seabrook — One half of the best defensive pair in the NHL, Seabrook has stepped up his game offensively, including a 3-point performance last Tuesday against Minnesota and a two assist tally against Toronto in a 4-0 shutout win last Sunday. Last five games: 1 goal, 4 assists.
After Scott Darling was sent back down to Rockford following the return of Corey Crawford from the injury list, Antti Raanta has sealed his position as the backup goaltender and his performance in his last two starts have given the Hawks new life, they’ve included a 31-save shutout win versus Toronto and his collecting 26 saves versus Minnesota.
Raanta has proved over the past two seasons that he is prepared to step in should Crawford miss anymore time or to spot start throughout the year. For the month of December, Raanta is 5-0 with a 1.60 Goals Against Average along with a save percentage of .952.
Closing the month of December will be a challenge for the Hawks with games against division rivals Colorado and Nashville in their remaining two games of the month. This will be a test before their high-profile showdown against the Washington Capitals in our Nation’s capital on New Year’s Day. If we know one thing about the Hawks, they’re not afraid of any team and will show up with their max effort every night.
Player of the Week
Patrick Kane — With a total of 9 points, including a 3-point performance versus Toronto (2 assists), Kane has continued to dominate the team’s offensive contributions. If he stays consistent through the remainder of the season, Kaner should be in serious conversation for League MVP.
R.I.P. Clint Reif
Clint Reif, the Hawks’ assistant equipment manager, passed away at the age of 34 on Sunday in his home in Lombard, Ill. Mr. Reif was survived by his wife along with their four children.
Two thumbs up to the entire Blackhawks organization for honoring Reif with a moment of silence before the game against Toronto and again with a tribute by the players following the game, giving a beloved member of their family a final salute. If that’s not first class, than I don’t know what is.
Don’t Forget To Vote
Goals per game: 3.0 (4th in NHL)
Goals against: 1.9 (1st in NHL)
Power Play percentage: 18.0 (17th in NHL)
Penalty Kill percentage: 91.6 (1st in NHL)
Goals — Patrick Kane (16); Assists — Kane (20); Points — Kane (36); Goals Against Average — Antti Raanta (1.76); Penalty Minutes — Andrew Shaw (28).
The Week Ahead
Saturday — at Colorado, 8 pm; Monday — vs. Nashville, 7:30 pm; 1/1 — at Washington (Winter Classic), 12 pm; 1/4 — vs. Dallas, 7 pm.
*All times Central
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