Despite Struggles Early, Chicago Blackhawks Gain Momentum
Although things looked awful for a brief period, the Chicago Blackhawks reassured their fans with an impressive win tonight against the San Jose Sharks. And while both teams will likely be towards the top in the Western Conference, the Blackhawks proved to be rather resilient and win when it mattered this weekend, setting themselves up for the seven games in eleven days which looms ahead.
Saturday against the Nashville Predators proved to be a rather uncharacteristic loss against a bad team, and the team overall looked disjointed once again with backup goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin in net. Captain Jonathan Toews compared the Blackhawks style of play in the loss to “pond hockey”, but all change of the team’s style goes through Toews as well as Coach Joel Quenneville.
Sunday marked changes not only in lines, but in an attitude of what the game meant. San Jose is one of the better teams in the NHL, but the Blackhawks played a disciplined game which only allowed two penalties, a feat which even one of the worst penalty kills in the league could handle with relative ease.
Defensively, the Blackhawks continue to be consistent in front of Corey Crawford who only had to face 24 shots and made 23 saves. Contributions from Patrick Sharp, Brandon Pirri and Kris Versteeg ensured the Blackhawks would carry plenty of momentum into the infamous “Circus Trip” with a bit of stability in spite of injuries which seem to keep piling on.
On the top of the injury report is veteran forward Marian Hossa, who is day-to-day and may play Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche. It was not strange to see Hossa playing in Nashville, as the Blackhawks are best served resting their aging star whenever possible. However, it was uncharacteristic to see the big time player miss a statement game such as this one. If Hossa is to return against Colorado, it could only help the Blackhawks continue the momentum they helped build Sunday night.
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