Sidney Brown provides dispatches from the front lines of Blackhawks fandom every week during the hockey season.
With 2015 now in the rear view mirror, the Chicago Blackhawks are turning the page towards 2016 by riding a three-game win streak.
The team’s struggles on the road this season has been magnified, but the last couple games, including Sunday night’s 3-0 domination of Ottawa, have been performances that show that the Hawks have the potential to be a contending team in the Western Conference once again. Leading the Hawks current resurgence in the last three games are cast of role players along with the usual superstars. A few standouts:
Andrew Desjardins: 3 goals (2-goal performance at Arizona last Tuesday)
Artemi Panarin: 1 goal, 2 assists (2 assists at Colorado)
Artem Anisimov: 2 goals
Patrick Kane: 2 goals, 4 assists (6 points in two games prior to Ottawa)
Jonathan Toews: 2 goals, 1 assist (including game-winner at Colorado in a 4-3 victory last Thursday)
Let’s not forget the outstanding goaltending for Mr. Corey Crawford and earning a #1 star for the week during the month of December highlighted his work between the pipes keeping the Hawks afloat the Central Division.
Crawford In December
— 8-4-1 record
— 26 goals allowed
— 2.00 goals against average
— .936 save percentage
— 3 shutouts
Now the stretch towards the end of the first half of the season begins and the competition for the men in red heats up in a major way. With a total of 14 games for the month, the schedule features seven games at the United Center, including opponents such as Pittsburgh, Buffalo and division rivals Colorado, Nashville and St. Louis.
The road schedule mirrors the home schedule with Pittsburgh, last year’s Stanley Cup Final opponent Tampa Bay, Montreal, Toronto and division rival Nashville on the travel itinerary.
With a record of 7-3 in their last 10 games along with a 5-6-1 mark versus the Central Division and 6-6-1 against the East, the time to make a move towards the top of the division and in the Western Conference is now and playoff positioning is key because after the All-Star break it’s all about staying healthy and playing your best heading into the second season.
*To Brent Seabrook for playing in his 800th career game last Sunday against Carolina in a 3-1 loss. Seabrook joins a great company of elite defenseman to play that many games in the Blackhawks sweater.
Hawks Defenseman All-Time (Games Played)
Bob Murray — 1,008
Doug Wilson — 938
Pierre Pilote — 821
Keith Brown — 812
Brent Seabrook — 800
Season — 6 goals, 19 assists = 25 points
Career — 77 goals, 266 assists = 343 points
*To Artem Anisimov for netting home his 100th career goal in a 4-3 victory over Colorado on New Year’s Eve. For the season, Anisimov has a total of 14 goals along with seven assists for 21 points. Clearly Artem is the answer that the Hawks have been looking for at second line center for years and his play alongside Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin has been the best line for the team from the start of this season.
*To Jonathan Toews for scoring his fourth game-winning overtime goal in a 4-3 victory over Colorado on New Year’s Eve, setting a franchise record for overtime goals in a single season.
Team Leaders (prior to Sunday)
Points: Patrick Kane (56); Goals: Kane (23); Assists: Kane (33); Penalty Minutes: Andrew Shaw (33); Goals Against Average: Corey Crawford (2.31)
Team Stats (prior to Sunday)
Goals Per Game: 2.7 (10th in NHL)
Goals Against: 2.5 (12th in NHL)
Power Play: 23.8% (3rd in NHL)
Penalty Kill: 81.1% (12th in NHL)
The Road Ahead (Through 1/10)*
Tuesday at Pittsburgh Penguins — 6 pm
Wednesday vs. Pittsburgh Penguins — 7 pm
Friday vs. Buffalo Sabres — 7:30 pm Sunday vs. Colorado Avalanche — 6 pm
*All times central
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