By Doug Halberstadt
They are one of the six original teams that formed the National Hockey League. They have a long and storied 86-year history. They’ve won multiple Stanley Cups. But never before have the Chicago Blackhawks won six straight games to begin a season. Their 6-0 start to the 2013 season is the best in franchise history.
The team will be going for their seventh win in a row tonight (Wednesday, Jan. 30) when they take on the Minnesota Wild. This game will be the first of six straight on the road for the Blackhawks.
The Wild will be playing their second game in two days. They hosted the Columbus Blue Jackets last night in Minnesota. (Results of that game were unavailable at press time.) The Blackhawks, on the other hand, are coming off a much-needed two-day break.
Chicago will get another two-day rest before resuming their road trip. They start the month of February in Canada. Friday, Feb. 1, they take on the Canucks in Vancouver. The next night, they’ll face the Flames in Calgary.
Then, it’s on to San Jose, Calif., to meet up with the Sharks on Tuesday, Feb. 5. Thursday night, Feb. 7, they’ll be on the ice in Phoenix against the Coyotes. The trip concludes with a game against the Nashville Predators Sunday night, Feb. 10.
The Hawks won’t return to action at the United Center until Tuesday night, Feb. 12, when they host the Anaheim Ducks. That will be the first of seven-straight home games for Chicago.
According to Head Coach Joel Quenneville, their depth has been vital to their success early this season. The Blackhawks made barely any additions to their roster during the offseason, so their core remained intact.
“We have our so-called third and fourth lines playing against anybody,” said Quenneville, who added that one of his goals this season is to reduce the pressure on his star players. “In the past, that was probably a stricter and a tighter matchup for us. It helps take minutes away from our top guys, one or two a game. Over the course of the season, that’s going to be valuable at critical times. We don’t want these guys to absorb all the responsibility of our team success. I think getting other guys to contribute and add to that mix is something we’re looking to inject this year. We feel we’re getting some nice complementary work from across the board.”
Another key factor is the outstanding play of goaltender Corey Crawford. He’s seeing the puck extremely well and says he’s never felt more confident playing between the pipes. In the five games he’s played, he’s allowed nine goals for a 1.78 goals-against average. He’s also has a .933 save percentage.
It’s extremely unlikely the Hawks will be able to survive the current road trip with an undefeated record. That being said, it’s not that far-fetched to think they could return home with a double-digit win total and only a loss or two. Bon voyage, Blackhawks!
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Jan. 30-Feb. 5, 2013, issue