The 2012-2013 (but mostly just 2013) Chicago Blackahawks have now tied their 1971-1972 franchise 5-0-0 undefeated record start.
The term “undefeated” carries a lot of weight, especially when the NHL playoff race began at the top of this shortened 48 game season. But are the Blackhawks really THAT good? Or are they just a team capitalizing on the situation?
There is no doubt that Chicago has one of the most talented and stacked offensive lines in the league, but with roster that has changed very little since the Hawks were booted out of the first round of playoffs last year, does this team have what it takes to live up to the hype of their stellar start in the long run?
My answer? Yes.
I admit Saturday’s scrape-by win to CBJ was a frustrating episode to watch, and Dallas, specifically goaltender Kari Lehtonen, gave the Hawks a hard time, but when called up to the challenge, Chicago has proved they can outplay even the western conference’s toughest contenders.
Every team came into this shortened season with a condensed training camp and minimal opportunity to find their groove sans any preseason. The Blackhawks were at no advantage other than being healthy with players who have skated together for years with a knack of turning things out in their favor.
The two things pushing the Hawks’ success and keeping it together are high scoring forwards like Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane, and Corey Crawford’s in-goal performance.
Hossa was a league leader at the top of the season with a pair of goals in each of his first two games and Kane racing to the top of the points chart with his seven assists. A lot of players want to prove themselves this year, and no one more than Crawford, determined to stay focused and maintain his solid role between the pipes with Chicago. (Crawford’s current SV% is .923).
Last year the Blackhawks left the season with one of the worst PP and PK standings in the league, a problem already being addressed this year with 5 PPGs in the last five games and a 94.1 PK%.
Ultimately the talent depth and experience of this team are going to help them keep pace as a cup contender this year. You can’t play every game at 100% without burning out, so there will be close games that shouldn’t be close and losses where we’re simply outplayed, but as long as this team can continue to find ways to the back of the net, Chicago will easily be seated in the playoffs.
We won’t be undefeated forever, but while it last the Hawks have to be ready for every opponent to be out for blood. It’s no fluke, the Chicago Blackhawks came into this season ready to perform. Five n’ Oh.