Sunday, Dec. 12, 2010
By Tracey Myers
The news out of San Jose on Saturday morning, albeit a bit vague, was still pretty positive: some combination of the injured Blackhawks trio (Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Fernando Pisani) will be taking the ice soon in Chicago. One or more could be out there today. Same goes for Monday.
Good news, indeed, for a team thats been forced again to patchwork a lineup together in the hopes of finding success. But since this latest injury bug began at the end of their circus trip, the Blackhawks have somehow found a way to gather up some much-needed points. Granted, it hasnt been easy. They flirted with disaster against St. Louis and Dallas. Theyve called upreassigned Jeremy Morin enough that the kids frequent flyer miles probably rival mine. Theyve had to turn defensemen into forwards again.
Yet here they are with 35 points, good for fourth place in the Western Conference on a Sunday morning. And during this latest rash of injuries, beginning with Pisanis prior to the Nov. 27 game in Los Angeles, the Blackhawks have found a way to go 4-1-1. Thats without key penalty killer Pisani (upper body) and scoring stars Hossa and Kane.
So how did the Blackhawks get on a roll despite all of that? Theyve certainly banded together and played the team game, but a few individuals have stood out and in one case, sometimes stood on his head. Corey Crawford has been huge during this run, and if the 25-year-old hasnt been given a bunch of thank yous and steak dinners yet, he should be. Even in Saturday nights overtime loss to San Jose, Crawfords work was stellar. Without his big saves, that waived-off Viktor Stalberg goal is an oh-by-the-way mention instead of the potential game-winner. Coach Joel Quenneville said it couldve been Crawfords best game. Its hard to argue otherwise.
The Bryan Bickell-Dave Bolland-Troy Brouwer line has brought checking and some offense. John Scott has ignited the team with a few brawls.
Jonathan Toews has also been a force. He fired five shots on goal and was a threat throughout the night against the Sharks. The captain has been in top form lately and Im guessing the Blackhawks are feeding off that as much as the no-excuses mentality he and the team has no choice but to embrace.
Were at that point where its time to start expecting to play our best hockey, he said prior to the San Jose game. Right now I think were really starting to see some real results. Even though we have some injuries its time to go out and make things happen. We still have the guys who can do it.
The good news is, the reinforcements will soon return. The better news is how well the Blackhawks weathered the storm without them.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.