Champs or Chumps?
by Jessica Citronberg
Photo courtesy of NHL.com
Coming off a 26 game point streak, Patrick Kane is having a remarkable on-ice season. Known for his one-of-a-kind stick handling, meticulous assists and top shelf goals, Kane shows no signs of slowing down.
He surpassed hockey greats Eddie Olczyk (18), Bobby Hull (21) and Sidney Crosby (25) and now holds the longest point streak for the Chicago Blackhawks club as well as for American-born players.
However, Kane’s increasing success seems to be clouded by the problems with the rest of his team. The 2015 Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks were a solid team. They had line after line delivering.
This team, on the other hand, is different from the 2015 team. Of course it’s different. Key veteran Hawks Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya are gone because the Blackhawks needed to make room for more affordable players like Artem Anisomov and Artemi Panarin.
While Kane’s rape allegations from this summer are still looming in the background, he and the Blackhawks aren’t letting it affect them. The NHL is conducting their own investigation, but this team has other things to think about at the moment.
Sending defenseman Trevor Daley to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for defensemen Rob Scuderi was a good move. The Blackhawks are in need of a more reliable defensive defenseman and Daley just wasn’t cutting it. Scuderi has a few more years on him than Daley, but Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook need more guys to rely on. **
Like most goalies, Corey Crawford takes a lot of blame for the Blackhawks slipping through the cracks. The 2014-2015 season was not the same as the 2012-2013 season for Crawford, but he is a consistent player who is frequently underrated on the Blackhawks bench.
Back up goalie Scott Darling has skills on the ice. He uses his 6’6” frame to his advantage, stopping goal after goal. That being said, however, he is raw. His first NHL start came during last year’s regular season. Without Darling, the Blackhawks would not have been able to defeat the Nashville Predators in the first round of the playoffs after Crawford’s goal tending slips.
But Darling is not at the level to be able to start back-to-back games and put up the saves like Crawford can. If Crawford got injured, the Blackhawks would have more problems than just a dull offense.
Right now, the Chicago Blackhawks are sloppy. Patrick Kane hit a major milestone this season, but it has been overshadowed by a collapsing team that was once as firm as a cement wall.
Historically, the Blackhawks have not had great success in the first half of the regular season. This team is known for a strong second half and stellar playoff performances.
Patrick Kane is projected to continue his incredible season with 53 points before the halfway mark of the season. All the while, hopefully avoiding the plague that hit him last season: a broken clavicle.
Since it is still early in the season, the Chicago Blackhawks could potentially turn their semi-sour start around. 2016 should bring some exciting games to the United Center.