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Hawks Soaring

by Ryan Liedtky

The Chicago Blackhawks struggled mightily early in the season on offense while posting some of the best defensive numbers around. Then, from December thirteenth through the twentieth the Hawks posted three shutout victories and an overtime 5-4 win over Boston, scoring no fewer than three goals in any of those games. That great stretch ended with a 2-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks, a loss that sparked the team to play more cohesive on the offensive side.

Since that loss, the Hawks have won seven of eight and have averaged over four goals per game. Chicago has moved from fourteenth in goals scored to third, and from fourteenth in power-play percentage to sixth (they are now converting over 20% on the year). They remain second in penalty killing and are tied for first in short-handed goals, often showing aggressive fore-checking as an effective means of preventing goals against. Combined with their league leading goals against average and seven shutouts, this Blackhawks team has proven itself to be the marquee defensive unit in all the league.

The concerns which once overshadowed their first place standing seem to have vanished. Yet as any coach can tell you, there is always room for improvement, no matter how good you are. This team still has a lot to prove, especially with its youth. How will the young stars hold up as the season winds down? Will they be able to defeat teams like San Jose and Detroit once the playoffs start and the toll of an 82 game season has dished out all the punishment the human body can handle? Will the two weeks off in February for the Olympics disrupt the flow, timing, and rhythm of this team, and if it does can they recover their dominant form when it matters most?

Until then, enjoy the season and the success. The games continue with a hot match up with a solid, and dangerous, Boston Bruins team tonight (Thursday, January 7th).

You can contact Ryan Liedtky with story ideas or questions by email at rliedtky@yahoo.com


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