Blackhawks

Blackhawks: So far, so good...

986157.png

Blackhawks: So far, so good...

Its tough to get excited after just two games into the Blackhawks season. While some are already thinking Stanley Cup Finals in the middle of the summer, Im holding judgment until the team at least gets through the first 12 games, 10 of those on the road.

But its hard not to be optimistic after seeing the damage theyve done while on the road out west.

People were worried about the Blackhawks handling the energy the Kings would feed off of after the raising the 2012 Stanley Cup banner. In the end, fans had nothing to worry about as history repeated itself. Defending cup champs have now won just three times in the last 10 years the day they raise the banner.

Joel Quenneville and the Hawks jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never looked back. A convincing win - a win on the road against the defending champs - to start the shortened 48-game season.

Just over 24 hours later, I kept hearing the word revenge being thrown around when the Blackhawks and Coyotes were set to face-off. Did the Coyotes eliminate the Blackhawks last season? Yes. Was there bad blood between the two teams? Yes. Did Raffi Torres turn Marian Hossas offseason upside down after having to recover from a concussion? Yes.

But if you believe the Blackhawks were thinking revenge when taking the ice, I think you were wrong. There is no time to think revenge when EVERY point means something this season.

Even after the Coyotes jumped out to an early lead, I had a feeling that wouldnt be the only goal scored in the game. In fact, there were nine more scored, fortunately six were by the Blackhawks.

And it wasnt just the Blackhawks scoring goals Sunday night, it was how they were scoring them.

Great vision on a power play, a wicked wrister top shelf, a give-and-go that worked to perfection and fighting through a check to set up a point-blank shot. Those converted scoring chances were no flukes.

Added optimism is whos scoring the goals. In a shortened season, the big boys need to show up early and often. Aside from Hossas four goals and one assist, the other top forwards on the team (Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland) have scored at least one goal and added one assist. Will this scoring keep up? You would hope so, but when games start coming every other day, it may be hard to find the scoring touch every night. But its a good sign that at least the guys who are supposed to be finding the back of the net, are doing so to set the pace for the rest of the club.

When Hossa compared this team to the 2010 squad after the win in Phoenix, there was no one laughing about the comment.

And when Joel Quenneville was asked about what Hossa said, he didnt back down from saying that the current team is capable of playing against anyone, because the roster is so deep.

You have to be happy as a Blackhawks fan. Eleven goals scored in two games, on the road, against the two teams that were in the conference finals last season.

Now, they get to walk the red carpet before opening up the United Center Tuesday night. But the 2-0 start wont mean a thing if they dont come out ready to play against St. Louis, a rival that won the division last year.

Buckle up Blackhawk fans. Youre in for a wild ride, one that will hopefully last long enough to be tailgating in the United Center parking lot before Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are Blackhawks doomed to miss playoffs without Crawford?

crawford-1126.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are Blackhawks doomed to miss playoffs without Crawford?

Jesse Rogers (ESPN Chicago), Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times) and Dan McNeil join Chuck Garfien on the panel.

Corey Crawford is reportedly suffering vertigo-like symptoms and there’s a chance he might not return this season. Are the Blackhawks playoff chances gone if he doesn’t come back?

Plus, the guys talk Bears coaches, preview Conference Championship weekend and Jesse discusses if the Cubs are saving their money for next winter’s big free agent class.

Listen to the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

Why Corey Crawford situation is tricky for Blackhawks

corey_crawford_blackhawks.jpg
USA TODAY

Why Corey Crawford situation is tricky for Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have been tight-lipped about Corey Crawford's status ever since he was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 27 with an upper-body injury, and it's fueled rampant speculation on social media about what's really going on. That came to an end on Tuesday when Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that there's growing concern within the organization that its star goaltender could miss the remainder of the season with vertigo-like symptoms. (Blackhawks senior adviser Scotty Bowman went on Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Wednesday to clarify it's post-concussion syndrome).

And while there's at least some clarity surrounding Crawford's condition, it's opened up more questions about what the Blackhawks may do going forward.

On Monday we broke down the unfavorable playoff picture for the Blackhawks going into the bye week, which was a glaring concern in and of itself. Add in the possibility that Crawford could be sidelined for the rest of the campaign and those chances absolutely diminish.

So what course of action should the Blackhawks take ahead of the Feb. 26 trade deadline? That's where the tricky part comes in.

Because of the nature of Crawford's injury, the Blackhawks aren't at a point right now where they want to put him on long-term injured reserve because that would require him to miss a minimum of 10 games or 24 days, and they're still holding out hope that he could come back within that timeframe. The problem with it is that nobody really knows. It could be days, weeks or months, and putting a restriction on that doesn't make much sense in the middle of a playoff run even though it would open up significant cap space.

Which brings us to our next point. There are certainly some decent rental goaltenders (Robin Lehner, Petr Mrazek or Antti Raanta, to name a few) on the market if the Blackhawks choose to go that route, but that might not be the wisest thing to do.

Given their spot in the standings and the chances Crawford could return, why risk giving up future assets for a playoff run that may not happen? It would be different if the Blackhawks wanted to add some insurance for the stretch run and postseason, but there's no guarantee it'll happen.

If the Blackhawks did, however, want to go that route, they would need to act quickly because there's no point in waiting closer to the deadline. Every point is crucial from here on out.

Perhaps the best and most logical idea is to stand pat.

Let it ride with Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass and hope they can hold the fort down until a potential Crawford return. Let the young guys continue to grow. Maybe add a defenseman to patch up the back end, but don't empty the tank. There's no reason to. The Blackhawks are hoping to sign highly-touted prospect Dylan Sikura after his college season ends, which would serve as a deadline acquisition by itself.

It will be tempting for the Blackhawks to be aggressive at the trade deadline in the wake of Crawford's injury, and they're surely already having these discussions as they continue to explore the different avenues. But this might be a rare case where doing nothing is the right way to go.