After going winless in five games, the Chicago Blackhawks improved their playoff position by winning four games in a row. Corey Crawford led the way in all four victories, and the ‘Hawks defensive depth has come though, covering for recent injuries. Both of these factors now have the Chicago Blackhawks playoff hopes alive.
Chicago Blackhawks Playoff Hopes Still Alive
The month of December started with the Chicago Blackhawks in the middle of a five game winless streak. Crawford was out with a lower-body injury, and Blackhawk players and fans were not happy. When Crawford returned December 8th, the Blackhawks were falling in the standings and out of the last Western Conference Wild Card spot. Since Crawford’s return, the ‘Hawks earned victories against the Buffalo Sabres, Arizona Coyotes, Florida Panthers, and Winnipeg Jets. The four big wins caused the Chicago Blackhawks playoff hopes to return.
Corey Crawford Vezina Worthy
Crawford is the key to the success of the Blackhawks. His level of play has been outstanding all season. He has been at or near the top in the league in goals-against-average (2.15) and save percentage (.934). He has gone nine games without a regulation loss, despite a recent lower-body injury that kept him out three games. Crawford is unanimously the team’s MVP this season, and should be in the mix for the Vezina Trophy based on his play this year.
At the start of the season, there were questions about the Blackhawks carrying eight defensemen on the active roster. Those questions have been answered recently due to injuries to Cody Franson and Jan Rutta. Jordan Oesterle and Michal Kempny have filled in for ‘Hawks quite nicely despite their limited playing time prior to the injuries. The Blackhawks also recalled defenseman Ville Pokka from the Rockford IceHogs to cover while Franson is on IR.
This recent article by Charlie Roumeliotis from NBC Sports Chicago describes the Hawks moves due to injuries:
“Cody Franson was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 9 and Ville Pokka was recalled from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League, the team announced Wednesday. Pokka, 23, ranks second among IceHogs defensemen with 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 26 games this season.”
“He was drafted in the second round (No. 34 overall) by the New York Islanders, and was acquired by Chicago in 2014 as part of the package that sent Nick Leddy the other way.”
The Blackhawks have a big game against the Minesota Wild Sunday night. The ‘Hawks and the Wild are now tied for the last Wild Card spot with 37 points respectively. Sunday’s game is another big test for the Hawks as they try to move up in the standings. Following that game, the Hawks face the Dallas Stars, New Jersey Devils, Vancouver Canucks, and Edmonton Oilers. The next five games involve four Western Conference teams, all of which with important Western Conference points at stake. Will the Blackhawks continue their winning ways?