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Here Come the Hawks, The Mighty Blackhawks
Chicago Blackhawks are back!
After making the NHL playoffs only once in the last ten years, the Chicago Blackhawks are back and are taking the NHL by storm. The best feel-good story in the NHL this season is getting better with each game.
The Blackhawks, one of the original six NHL teams have taken huge strides this year and through Wednesday January 7th, they are dominating. The only teams that they have been having trouble with are their divisional rivals the first place Detroit Red Wings whom they trail by 8 points 59-51, and the San Jose Sharks who lead their Division and are the Western Conference and NHL leaders with 63 points . They are ranked 4th in the Western Conference, have winning records at home and on the road, and are 8-2 in their last 10 games. The only two losses being against the Red Wings, once in Detroit and at the Winter Classic on New Years day at Wrigley Field.
After starting out slowly with former Hawk great Dennis Savard at the helm, Savard was fired and Joel Quenneville took over. Since that point, the Hawks have been on fire.
Their play has not gone unnoticed either. Three Blackhawks will be on the starting line of the NHL All-Star game this year. Last years Calder Trophy (top rookie) winner Patrick Kane will be joined by last years runner up to the Calder Trophy, Jonathan Towes, and Brian Campbell.
Chicago Blackhawks cornerstones Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews finished 1-2 among all players in the West. Kane received 917,551 votes. Toews, named Blackhawks captain this season, received more than 809,599. Rounding out the Blackhawks' All-Star contingent is defenseman Brian Campbell, who will start for the second time in three years. Campbell, who joined the Blackhawks this summer, is on pace for his second straight 60-point season.
Fourteen players on the Blackhawks have double digit points as of today. Left wing Patrick Sharp leads the team with 20 goals followed by Kane with 16. Kane leads the Hawks in assists with 25 followed by fellow All-star Campbell with 22. Although the Hawks don't have a superstar, they play as a team and the points and assists are fairly evenly distributed throughout the squad.
The Blackhawks also have the luxury of having two quality starting goaltenders on their squad. Nikolai Khabibulin, who has a goals against average of 2.39 and a save percenatage of .924. He is joined by Cristobal Huet, who has a goals against average of 2.41 and a save percenatge of .914 respectfully. having two great goaltenders will hlep the Blackhawks down the road and in the playoffs because they share the load and neither player will be worn out when crunch time comes around. Teams with only one true starting goalie will not have this advantage.
Head Coach Joel Quenneville on basically alternating goaltenders said "We’re comfortable with our goaltending situation. It’s been one of our strengths. I don’t know how it’ll play itself out. Eventually things usually sort themselves out. Over the course of the year there’s usually a clear answer, but right now we don’t have a situation where we have to go with one guy. But at some point it might come to that.”
After years of futility in Chicago NHL Hockey, the Blackhawks have returned to being one of the top teams in the NHL. The fans are again selling out the United Center and with the young dynamic players that the Hawks have, this is a great sign for years to come. And they still have the best uniforms in hockey!