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Blackhawks Mon Feb 25 2013

Blackhawks Keep Rolling Behind Crawford Shutout

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Corey Crawford returned between the pipes for the Blackhawks last night, recording his second shutout of the season in a 1-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Andrew Shaw scored the game's only goal in the second period, as the Blackhawks extend their winning streak to open a season at 18 games (15-0-3).

All is right with the universe, as the Hawks are in overdrive nearly 40 percent of the way through the season. And after gaining another two points by toying with the lowly Blue Jackets (if you watched the game, you know that the score was in no way any reflection of the sharp play from Columbus, but more or less the lackadaisical play on behalf of the Hawks), it looks as though the Central Division is all but theirs.

With that said, there are a few things to keep in mind before crowning this team with the Cup before St. Patrick's Day:

  • Having confidence is one thing, but at times the Hawks seem to play with fire. Take, for instance, Niklas Hjalmarsson's nifty but dangerous pass in the third period. While in his team's own defensive zone, "The Hammer" took it upon himself to pass the puck between his legs towards center ice with his back facing the blue line. Not even Patrick Kane after a night out with Vince Vaughn on Rush Street would attempt this move.
  • Play 60 minutes, not 40 minutes. The Hawks are spot-on during the first two periods, and at times show flashes of brilliance in the third. But more times than not, the forechecking looks more like Jennifer Lawrence attempting to accept an award on Oscar night.
  • Resting players more often is going to be the theme in the next month or so, or at least that's what we hope will be the case with coach Quenneville. Outside of Dave Bolland's recent upper-body injury, this team has been lucky in avoiding the injury bug. Yes, Marian Hossa was knocked into next week by the weasley Jannik Hansen, but passed all concussion tests and continues to skate on thin ice with his health.

The Western Conference is not a lock. The Hawks are six points ahead of Anaheim, who beat the Hawks in an overtime shootout (3-2) back on February 12. Oh, and those dirt bag Canucks? They're only nine points back, but would be closer if not for help yesterday from those dirt bag Red Wings.

Tonight the Hawks welcome an interesting team in the Edmonton Oilers. For the past two years, everyone and their mother has crowned the Oilers as having the next big thing in terms of a talented young squad. While that might be the case, I've always felt these predictions came too premature for the once-proud franchise. Yes, they are young and talented, but they're easily two, maybe three years away from making a dent in the standings.

It's a good problem to be in at 15-0-3 by nitpicking and sweating the small stuff. But ultimately it's what will come between this team winning the Cup or becoming a footnote in history.

 
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