In this shortened NHL season, we are already about one third of the way through the regular season. Some teams look great while others look like the lockout was anything but a friend to them. The Chicago Blackhawks haven't missed a beat. Currently, they are poised to have a fantastic year.
|Photo by: Bill Smith|
The Blackhawks are a well-rounded team with several great players, none standing out far above the rest. Even with their star-studded roster including Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford, they don't have any league-leaders in any major statistical category.
Kane leads all Blackhawks' scorers with 9 goals and 12 assists. His 21 points have him tied for 3rd in the NHL. The next highest points total in Chicago is Toews, and he has managed 15 points this season -- tied for 17th in the NHL. The reason these Blackhawks are so good isn't individual, but rather it's a team effort. Although nobody on the squad is in the top 5 for goals this season, the team as a whole is 3rd in goals scored.
The goaltending has been a big factor as well. Corey Crawford and Ray Emery have been stellar. Individually, neither leads the league in any major statistical category. Combined, however, is a different story. Currently the Blackhawks hold the best goals against average in the NHL at 1.87.
The Hawks also are 3rd in the NHL in penalty kill percentage and 1st in overall plus/minus. Only 3 players have a negative plus/minus rating, and that rating is only minus 1.
To be a good team at the highest level of hockey, a club must have depth. They must have high levels of play from their first line all the way down to their fourth line. They need to be solid in between the posts and their defensive front must be excellent as well. All facets of the Blackhawks game, including special teams, are among the best in the NHL.
With a single point on Friday against the Sharks, Chicago will rewrite hockey's record books. Whether or not they accomplish this feat, they are still the team to beat in the NHL this year. Will the Stanley Cup yet again go to the Blackhawks, one of hockey's "Original Six?" For my money, I say yes.