What a start the Chicago Blackhawks are off to.
Three games into this lockout-shortened season the Blackhawks have defeated the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, the Phoenix Coyotes, who advanced to the Western Conference finals a year ago, and the St. Louis Blues, a team that had the second-most points in the Western Conference in 2011-12.
In getting off to their best start in 40 years (1972-73), the Hawks have scored a total of 14 goals against three of the best goalies – L.A.’s Jonathan Quick, Phoenix’s Mike Smith and St. Louis’ Brian Elliott – the NHL has to offer.
After his team’s 3-2 victory over visiting St. Louis Tuesday night, Coach Joel Quenneville said he’s happy with where his team is right now.
How about ecstatic?
That’s how the sellout crowd of 21,000-plus in the United Center and Hawk fans around the country are feeling right now.
No question there’s plenty to be giddy about.
This is a Chicago team that has great skill and talent that’s as hardworking as any you’ll find, making it very difficult to matchup with.
The Hawks’ offensive firepower is equal to any other NHL team and with the way their stars have started the season, the rest of the league should be very leery.
Patrick Kane, the first star of the game against St. Louis after scoring the game’s first goal, has a pair of goals and three assists in the first three games, while Marian Hossa’s four goals are second to none in the NHL.
Against St. Louis, goalie Corey Crawford was at the top of his game, another very good sign for a team who most believe will be prevented from being as good as it should be due to its shaky goaltending.
Crawford made 32 saves against the Blues, including some of the point-blank variety in the third period when the visitors were trying to mount a furious rally.
Key for the Hawks, as it is for all the contenders, will be staying healthy.
As long as Chicago keeps stars like Jonathan Toews and Hossa on the ice instead of on the shelf due to injuries, something it couldn’t do last season, they’ll be the team to beat in the Western Conference. And if things end the way they’ve started, they’ll be raising their second Stanley Cup in the last four seasons.
I know, I know, slow way down, but if you’re a Hawks fan, you have to love the way this season has started.
Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.