Sidney Brown brings his weekly dispatches from the front lines of Blackhawks fandom every week during the hockey season.
So what do you think of when you think about the 2014-15 Chicago Blackhawks?
From a slow start in October… to the hot streaks in November and December… to the play of newcomer Brad Richards…the injuries of Trevor Van Riemsdyk, Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg and Corey Crawford… the struggles of Marian Hossa and a .500 record so far in January (5-5) what’s resulted is a tie for second place with St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference’s Central Division (30-15-2).
To believe in the adage that adversity builds character would allow most Hawks fans to feel perfectly fine with the current state of the team in spite of whatever bumps they’ve taken so far this season. If that isn’t enough its not hard to keep in mind the past experience that the team has and its not a stretch to say that the Hawks have indeed shown once again that they are one of the top teams in the NHL and they remain as one of the top contenders to take home the Stanley Cup at season’s end.
A recent two-game win streak to end the first half of the season could be proof that the Hawks are finally turning the corner consistency-wise. A corner is in need of turning because the month of January hasn’t been too kind:
Before Tuesday’s game against Arizona
Goals Scored: 22
Goals Allowed: 27
Power Play: 4 of 23
Penalty Kill: 15 of 20
In this week’s victories over Arizona and Pittsburgh, the Hawks offense has gotten back on track, scoring a total of eight goals while allowing only three from the opposition. After being benched in last Sunday’s loss to Dallas, Andrew Shaw responded in the subsequent games.
Shaw posted two goals in the Arizona win, a big boost in points after his scoring only two assists in his last 22 games. Questionable penalties came for Shaw, the team’s leader this season in penalty minutes, against Winnipeg and Dallas, but he has been played more disciplined hockey in the past two games, not turning it over at all against the Coyotes and Penguins.
Another jolt into the Hawks lineup has been provided by Brandon Saad and in his last five games the young star has collected a total of 5 points (3 goals) including a two-goal performance in a 6-3 loss against Dallas and his posting an assist in a trip to his hometown of Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
With Saad being placed on the first line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, Saad’s play has exploded as he’s done more to display his quickness and vision. For the month of January, Saad has 7 goals and 2 assists.
Dan Carcillo was suspended six games recently for his cross check hit on Winnipeg Jet Mathieu Perreault last Friday in a 5-2 loss at the United Center. This latest suspension marks Carcillo’s ninth in his nine years in the NHL.
To Patrick Kane for scoring his 200th career goal in the NHL in a Hawks uniform in a 6-1 victory over Arizona this past Tuesday.
With another 20+ goals to start this season, Kane leads the list of U.S.-born players with most consecutive seasons with that 20 or more goals to start a NHL career:
Patrick Kane (8)
Jimmy Carson (7)
Bob Carpenter (5)
Mike Modano (5)
Chris Drury (5)
Props to Jonathan Toews who with his second game-deciding goal of the season in the shootout win at Pittsburgh is now fourth among active players with 37 career shootout goals.
Props to Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville, who has now coached 500 games behind the Hawks bench.
Goals — Patrick Kane (22); Assists — Kane (29); Points — Kane (51); Goals Against Average — Antti Raanta (1.87); Penalty Minutes — Andrew Shaw (32).
Be sure to listen to The D & Davis Show this Saturday at 1 pm central on chicagolandsportsradio.com when the guys host the Chicago Blackhawks Power Hour, reviewing the first half of the NHL season.
Joining the guys will be journalists Cheryl Raye Stout from Chicago’s WBEZ-FM and Evan F. Moore to break down the happenings with the Men in Red!
Also, read my detailed grades on the Hawks’ first-half play Saturday morning prior to D & Davis here on weareregalradio.com.
Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under Regal Radio and Sidney Brown on Twitter @sidkid80