Coming fresh off of a Stanley Cup win, the Chicago Blackhawks have had an uphill battle so far during this 2013 season. Thus far, they have faced a myriad of injuries, which has stifled their game but not crippled it completely. They have faced both offensive and defensive struggles, but have been working hard to alleviate the kinks in the system.
Chicago has been put to the test this season, and it is clear to see. Many have said that the Hawks have lacked the finesse they once possessed out on the ice. While that may not be the whole truth, the team has defiantly been put to the test.
The epitome of this tribulation lies within the second matchup this season between the Blackhawks and the Calgary Flames. The first time these two teams met this season, it was really just a show-stopping performance by rookie net minder for Calgary, Reto Berra. This second matchup showed that with a conscious net minder on both sides, these two teams are a legitimate matchup.
It was important for the Blackhawks to meet up with the Flames because it really put them to the test, as the entire season has, in one night, under one roof, out on one sheet of ice. This game for the Blackhawks was a collective effort by the entire Blackhawks roster. From Net minder Antti Raanta, to offensive moves by the likes of Patrick Kane to important defensive strikes, the Hawks made an all around performance on Wednesday night.
While this match may not have been all fans wanted to see and more in the form of statistics, it was still an important model for how the rest of the season must play out for the Hawks. They really need to continue to capitalize on their ability to outperform their opponents on all fronts.
More importantly, Chicago needs to meet up with teams that will continue to challenge them. It is important for their overall success to stay sharp on their game. A delicate balance of offense and defense will be important, as was mirrored in Calgary.
While it is more amusing to watch your team slaughter the opponent in high scoring goal match, it is much more gratifying to see the skill of the players brought to the foreground in nail-biting moments such as was witnessed Wednesday night.
We will see what the rest of the season has in store, but as far as the Blackhawks are concerned, we should continue to hope for tough contests to build their strength and decision making out on the ice.