The Blackhawks remain undefeated in regulation this season after a 3-0 victory in Nashville yesterday to cap-off a six game road trip. Losing the opening two games in shootouts in Minnesota and Vancouver, the Blackhawks rebounded to finish the trip 4-0-2, and now have a seven game home-stand beginning Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.
While the team has been thriving as a hole, a large part of this early season success has to be attributed the play of Patrick Kane. Kane claimed the NHL's first star of the week honors today, for the week ending February 10. During that stretch, Kane tallied five goals and one assist, including the game-winner against the San Jose Sharks at the beginning of the week.
The Blackhawks' winger now ranks in the top ten in the NHL with nine goals (second in the league), ten assists (tenth), 19 points (second), a plus/minus of seven (tenth) and three powerplay goals (ninth).
While nit-pickers may say that the team still needs to find more consistency on the powerplay, as a whole, the Blackhawks have been nothing short of impressive this year. The team has proven its ability to comeback- no matter how little time is on the clock-as well as to battle and win games when they are not at their best. The penalty kill has been phenomenal, and players throughout the roster have been contributing to every facet of the game. Goalie Corey Crawford has been playing at a high level as well, and has already done much to silence the critics he had going into the season, especially with the feather-in-the-cap shoutout he earned last night.
Despite all of these positives, it may be Kane's apparent rededication to his sport that has allowed the Blackhawks to flourish as they have so far. Instead of wondering when, or if, Kane would be able to take the next step in his career and truly become one of the best few forwards in the NHL, he is showing his desire to you on the ice. Granted the season is early- as is his career still, realistically- however, 2013 has brought with it a Patrick Kane that appears to just as fast and skilled as ever, but with a smarter, more refined, technique and purpose to that magic he can put on display on the ice.
The return of hockey has truly been glorious for Blackhawks fans so far. The Blackhawks are now 10-0-2, good for a league-leading 22 points. Second best in the NHL goes to the New Jersey Devils, with 19. If Kane can continue his dominance of the rest of the teams in NHL, the Blackhawks may not even need to be as spectacular as they've been in other areas of the game in order to make this a very special season.
2013 will be offering quite a thrill for Chicago's hockey fans; I suggest you buy the ticket, and take the ride.