Blackhawks Tie Franchise Record with 11th Straight Win
The Chicago Blackhawks in the minds of most hockey pundits were going to step backwards this season. It was not going to be a big year for the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
They would make the postseason, but most did not consider them one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup.
This was due to the team losing so many of its contributors for the title team of last season that included three forwards in the top six and a defenseman who was top four with a number of role players.
The win on Sunday also propelled the Blackhawks further into first in the Central Division and the Western Conference.
When Chicago started its streak on December 29, the team was sitting in one of the wildcard spots. They were 13 points behind then first place Dallas in the Central. Following 11 straight wins, Chicago now leads the Central by 3 points.
If you are a general manager in the Western conference, your head must be shaking. The head of the NHL thought the salary cap would even the playing field.
Chicago because of the salary cap was required to part ways with Brandon Saad, Brad Richards, Johnny Oduya and Patrick Sharp.
The losses of those players should have left the team bloodied but it appears it did nothing of the sort.
The players lost such as Oduya and Versteeg are having career years with their news team. Chicago has replaced them sufficiently enough to have its team in the heart of the competition for the Stanley Cup title.
There are a number of players that have stepped up for the Blackhawks, but no one more than Patrick Kane. Kane’s scoring is at a level the league has not seen in 9 seasons. With two points on Sunday, including one goal and one assist, Kane is leading the NHL in scoring with 69 points in 48 games.
Last season, Jonathan Toews led the Blackhawks in scoring with 66 points over 81 games. Kane already is three points beyond that and 34 games remain.
At the same time, Kane’s goal total of 29 has him just one from a career high and he only needs 17 points to match his best ever season scoring wise.
Kane has played a role in 49% of Chicago’s 139 goals this season. The next closest point scorer on the team is Artemi Panarin 29 points below Kane.
No other player in the NHL means more to the scoring of his team than Kane does to the Blackhawks.