Who would have thought that losing their two best players would be the best thing that could happen to the Chicago Blackhawks this season? That’s not a knock against Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, but it seems as if the Blackhawks have woken up and have now won three-straight games — all of them gritty, simple and hard-fought. And now that they’ve won three straight, they’re gaining much-needed momentum for the playoffs.
It originally didn’t look this way. Hawks fans were panicking after the Kane injury and it got worse then Brooks Orpik hit Toews, injuring his arm. That last one created a a controversy over whether the Blackhawks should have retaliated or not. In a sense, they have retaliated. They’ve simplified their game, worked harder and have begun to rely on the help of youngsters and depth players.
One player who’s stepped up is Jeremy Morin. He had been dominant for the AHL Rockford Icehogs, but was not given much of a chance to make his name in the big leagues. Now, however, he’s scored three (two goals and an assist) points in his last two games. The other guy who’s stepped up? Ben Smith. He’s had a breakout year so far, but he’s scored in each of his last three games after Toews was injured. Thanks to the injuries, he’s also gotten valuable ice time. Head coach Joel Quenneville has been forced to drop his stubborn reliance on older players and rely on younger prospects. If things go well, expect Morin, Joakim Nordstrom and Teuvo Teravainen to become regulars next season.
Note this is not a condemnation of Kane and Toews, but simply pointing out a blessing in disguise. Certainly once the two return, the Hawks will be a dangerous team come the postseason. With the Hawks finally finding a way to win and their depth players getting valuable ice time and confidence, they will have a variety of weapons ready to step up again.
Despite what you might be fearing, Kane and Toews won’t harm whatever chemistry from this past streak. If anything, they’ll only make it better.