Weeks away from the festivities of the all-star weekend, the Chicago Blackhawks sit in a peculiar position. The Hawks watched their starting goaltender, Corey Crawford, leave in mid-December due to another concussion, which will leave him sidelined for an unknown amount of time. Of course, having another major concussion after the first one sidelined him for ten months doesn’t bode well for the Hawks star. However, something funny happened. The Hawks picked up the slack of not having their all-star goalie between the pipes and started playing well again. If you remember, I criticized the Blackhawks for not showing up when “Crow” came back, as they seemed to give up on offense and defense. Well, as if one could have predicted it, the Hawks started playing well again when Crawford went down.
Now, they have a gem in Collin Delia, who currently is playing at an elite level. Cam Ward has been serviceable at best, but Delia has shone bright. In Delia’s first seven starts, he’s posted a 3-1-3 record with a 2.70 goals against average and .932 save percentage. The one thing that Delia needs to continually work on is his rebounds and his net presence. There is so much potential in Delia that it seems likely that he’ll be one to take over for Crawford whenever Crawford calls it a career. I have no qualms with that because if he can continue to refine his game, he can easily become a top ten goalie in the NHL. We don’t know the full story of Collin Delia but we can’t wait to find out.
Since Crawford went down and the Hawks started playing like an actual hockey team, the Hawks have crawled their way back into playoff contention. . . Sort of. The Blackhawks currently sit at eight in the Central division, but much like any over-eager Hawks fan hoping for the sweet taste of playoffs again, we can say that they’re not out of it yet. The Hawks have put a solid run together in the last few weeks to sit at 41 points. Although that’s only good for last place in the central division, they are only six points out of the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference. Interesting, right? Wrong.
A lot has to happen for the Hawks in order for them to make it to the big dance. For starters, the Blackhawks have played the second most games in the NHL next to the Las Vegas Golden Knights. That means that although they’re only six points out, they’re also three games ahead of the eighth seed, the Minnesota Wild. The Wild can increase the gap and the Hawks would have no chance of catching them.
Another issue the Hawks have been having is they haven’t been able to hold it together for an entire game. For example, last night, against Las Vegas, the Hawks led the entire game. At one point, it was 2-0, then it was 3-1, then the Knights came back to tie it and eventually win it in overtime. If the Hawks could put these last few teams away (Las Vegas and Nashville) instead of falling in overtime, they would be sitting at a comfortable 43 points and only four points out which would make a late season run that much more likely. Alas, there is still hope, so don’t fret Hawks fans!
One last thing, Patrick Kane has been nothing short of amazing in the last few weeks. It seems he’s really turned his game up a few notches and the players around him are the beneficiaries. In 46 games this season, Patrick Kane has a saucy 60 points. Since December 16 against the Sharks, Kane has been on a tear, only having one game without a point, on New Years Day against the Boston Bruins. If not for that one game, Kane would be riding a twelve game point streak. None the less, Kane has notched three goals and nine assists in his last five games. The pace that Kane is on is beyond talent, it’s downright not human. If Kane can continue this pace, he has the chance to break his single season record of 106 points, set in 2015-2016. Kane has 35 games left to get another 56 points, which sounds a little outlandish, but it is Patrick Kane and if he keeps up his current pace (since December 16), 1.76 PPG, he’ll crush his 106 points and finish with 129 points. WOW!
The Hawks hope to win out this week and the next to get into better playoff position before the all-star break. They play the New Jersey Devils on Monday followed by the New York Rangers on Thursday before they finish off the week against the Washington Capitals on Saturday. They only have one game the next week, playing the New York Islanders on Tuesday, January 22. If they can win all those games, they’ll sit at 49 points and hopefully even closer to the eighth seed and a playoff birth.