The Blackhawks have played 39 games and are near the halfway mark of the regular season. Last night they won in pretty typical fashion by scoring five goals while giving up only two. Patrick Kane leads the team in goals and points with 22 and 49 respectively. The Blackhawks have the second most points in the NHL with 58. Nonetheless, their record pales compared to last year, which might be attributed to this year’s heavier travel schedule.
The Hawk’ clear-cut competitor in the division is still the St. Louis Blues, who pose the biggest threat to a repeat championship. While the Anaheim Ducks lead Chicago by one point in the standings for the President’s trophy, the Hawks should still end up with the best record. Looking a bit more broadly, the Eastern Conference is led again by the Bruins and Penguins while Montreal is becoming a more and more dangerous team. Crystal balling it, a Chicago-Montreal up in the Bell Center would be a raucous event that would make the Madhouse look like the symphony.
The Penguins have the offensive fire power to stay with Chicago and the star power to match, but the Pens seem to have playoff performance anxiety over the last couple of years. Chicago still remains in the middle of the pack in the NHL defensively and their high-octane scoring attack seems only threatened by a hot goalie.
With the second half of the season left to play and the Hawks steamrolling all comers especially in statement games, the question isn’t if they’ll return to the Stanley Cup Finals but who they’ll be playing.