New Year, New Hawks?

Going into the new year, the Chicago Blackhawks have plenty of questions marks surrounding their team. The Blackhawks left 2017 with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames. Although they lost, Johnathon Toews looked good and the first line, as a whole, produced.

The standout story for the past few games has been goaltender Jeff Glass, who has played very well for a goalie that no one knew a couple of weeks ago. Glass has held strong in the absence of Corey Crawford, who is currently on IR. Glass took over for Anton Forsberg and the Hawks haven’t looked back. The last time Glass was on the big stage was 2005, where he was the starting goaltender for Team Canada. He played with current teammate Brent Seabrook and also NHL stars Sidney Crosby, Shea Weber, Ryan Getzlaf and Patrice Bergeron.

 Archived photo

Archived photo

The first game in the new year for the Hawks was against the New York Rangers, who they defeated on Wednesday 5-2. A strong performance from Glass and offensive support to match, the Hawks came out with an overall solid victory. Another strong game from the first line helped, with each player notching at least one point and Toews picking up a goal and an assist.

Friday night, the Blackhawks took on the red-hot Las Vegas Golden Knights. A high scoring affair, the Hawks fell short by one goal, losing 5-4. They were able to compete with the Golden Knights, but they couldn’t pull out the victory. Again, the first line produced, with each player having a multi-point game.

Sunday, the Hawks took on the Edmonton Oilers. They came away with a decisive 4-1 victory, behind strong performances from Forsberg and Toews. The first line for the Hawks is starting to play well, which could help the Hawks make a playoff push. With six out of their next seven games at home, they have a legitimate chance to get a wild card spot.

At halfway through the season, the Hawks have been a mixed bag of tricks. From terrible slumps to championship caliber hockey, the Hawks are one of the hardest teams to get a read on this year. Here’s three things to look out for in the upcoming Hawks games.

First, the first line for the Hawks is a big question. If they keep going the way they have since the new year, this team has potential to take off. The big difference is Vinnie Hinostroza, who has provided a spark for Toews and Brandon Saad. A fresh face was just what the doctor ordered. Hinostroza, Saad and Toews are all riding four game point streaks.

Another thing to keep tabs on is the Hawks power play. They have consistently been awful this year, currently ranking 27th in the NHL. If the Hawks can right the ship and get some pucks in the net, they could be a force to be reckoned with. Watch for help from Jordan Osterele, who has a wicked shot. Hinostroza deserves a shot as well, with the energy he brings he could provide a big spark.

The last thing to watch for is the goaltending. We know that Crawford is out for an undisclosed amount of time. In the interim, we have Jeff Glass and Anton Forsberg. They are both respectable goalies, however, with a lack of experience at the NHL level, we can only speculate how they will fare with extended periods of playing time. So far, it has been smooth sailing minus the game against Las Vegas.

With the new year in full swing, we could be seeing a new brand of Hawks hockey, one we haven’t seen much this season. The Hawks next game will be on Tuesday, January 9 in Ottawa against the Senators at 6:30 pm.