One win over the Sharks? Ok, good feelings to end a road trip.
Two wins back-to-back? Hey, enjoy wins while we can right?
Three wins, all in comeback fashion? So, is this team good? No, right?
Four wins in-a-row and looking like a competent team against a Cup contender?
I’m running out of reasons to blow-off this start to the season from the supposed to be tanking Chicago Blackhawks. As we were all preparing this offseason for a 2022-23 campaign full of doom and gloom with the target being the best odds to land top 2023 NHL Draft prospect Connor Bedard, the Blackhawks and Luke Richardson apparently had other plans. Those plans were to simplify the game of hockey and put the right players in a position to be successful based on their best attributes.
Who woulda thunk it, eh?
But here we are six games into the season and the Blackhawks are 4-2-0 and looking like a team that, dare I say, might actually be more than tolerable this season. Chicago extended their winning streak to four games after a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers, a team looking to contend for a Stanley Cup playoff spot in a deep Eastern Conference.
Am I going to officially call the “tank” over? No.
At least, I don’t think so.
Critical thinking and common sense would tell you that a crash back to Earth is in the near future for these Blackhawks. It may very well be. But for this moment right now? This team is winning and it’s fun.
Kane Gets on the Board
It took a few games, but Patrick Kane has found a familiar rhythm to his game on night six of the regular season. After recording just one point in his first four games of the year, Kane has now recorded four points in his last two games after netting first his goal of the season and an assist tonight.
Kane spoke ahead of the game about not wanting to stress over his lack of production to begin the season, especially over his goal “drought.” But with his first of the year out of the way, maybe head coach Luke Richardson was on to something when he said in his pregame that the first goal of the season for Kane could “open the floodgates.” Time will tell, but things are trending up for Kane.
After allowing four poweplay goals to the Colorado Avalanche in the first game of the season, the Blackhawks’ penalty-kill has allowed just one goal against in their last 21 penalty kills. Over that same span of time, they have scored four shorthanded goals. Both of those stats are equally impressive and unexpected.
Tuesday night was just another early chapter in the story of the 2022-23 penalty killing journey for the Blackhawks as they had to kill four penalties in the second period alone and played half of the period down a man, and down two players for 95 seconds. Their efforts in the second period were met with not one, but TWO standing ovations from those in attendance at the United Center.
The night concluded with Chicago going a perfect six-for-six on the penalty-kill.
There is beauty in simplicity and the Blackhawks, under Luke Richardson, are exemplifying that. The structure of the penalty-kill is no different. Players know their assignments and they are executing it properly. Those simple things go a long way. Throw in the speed and aggressiveness of players like Colin Blackwell, Sam Lafferty, and Jujhar Khaira on the “Power-Kill” and the Blackhawks might be just as dangerous of a scoring threat when playing shorthanded as they are at five-on-five.
Is the “Tank” Over?
But, like, maybe?
But, no. Probably not.
Who knows? Hop on the ride and find out.