The Chicago Blackhawks win streak of three straight games ended Sunday. The Blackhawks are, however, 3-1 in their last four games. What an amazing turnaround for the franchise after hitting another rough patch this season. What was behind the win streak? Could it be that Stan Bowman’s Christmas Wish was coming true? Or is it something deeper for a team who lost starter Corey Crawford to a concussion yet again? Have they found that defining moment in their season when the players realize they’re in this together and finally find an “Esprit De Corps” that’s been missing? There are several keys to their recent success; better starts, better goaltending, and a red-hot Alex DeBrincat.
Blackhawks Win Streak Keys
Prior to the Blackhawks win streak of three games, the team was having extremely slow starts. They often found themselves down 2-3 goals before the end of the first period. Unfortunately, this team and its defence are not built for chasing a lead. During the Blackhawks win streak, however, they made it their purpose to not fall behind early.
In their first game after Crawford was injured, they beat the Nashville Predators at home 2-1. The team was focused on defending and limited the Predators to only 31 shots. In the next game, the Blackhawks got their first road win since November 24th. They opened against the Dallas Stars by going up 3-0 and cruised to a 5-2 win. They again tightened things up and limited the Stars to only 28 shots. In the last game of the Blackhawks win streak, they played the high flying Colorado Avalanche. They again scored first and held on for a 2-1 victory while keeping Nathan MacKinnon off of the score-sheet.
Cam Ward won the first two games and recent call-up Collin Delia won the third. Both of the Blackhawks goalies were spectacular in net while replacing Crawford. During the Blackhawks win streak, their goalies made several key stops in each of the wins. For more on Ward’s performance check out this from Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times:
“Every piece of Corey Crawford’s gear was set up perfectly in his locker before Tuesday’s home game against Nashville, likely to go as untouched as a museum exhibit for a while as the Blackhawks move on without him.”
“Veteran backup Cam Ward gave them a major boost as he stepped in Tuesday with his best game of the year. He was exactly what the Hawks needed after losing one of their stars, and they beat Nashville 2-1 at the United Center.”
Delia showed everyone he belonged in the NHL with his victory against the Avalanche. He stood on his head at times keeping his team in the game while they struggled with the thin Colorado air. It is hoped that Delia gets more time while Corey Crawford is out on injured reserve. Delia also has the chance to grab the net from Ward during Crawford’s absence. Based on Ward’s one year deal and Corey Crawford’s health concerns Delia should get the chance to show he can be the Blackhawks goalie of the future.
The Cat Is On Fire
Chicago Blackhawks sniper Alex DeBrincat has been lighting it up the last few games. He started off the season red-hot but cooled off along with the rest of team as they struggled. DeBrincat led the Blackhawks last season with 28 goals as a rookie. This season DeBrincat is tied with Patrick Kane with a team-high 17 goals. DeBrincat has also added 14 assists this year. In the last five games, DeBrincat has 4 goals and 2 assists. He has gotten hot for his team at the right time after they lost Corey Crawford again. For more on DeBrincat’s hot streak check out this from John Dietz of the Daily Herald:
“That’s exactly how DeBrincat’s rookie campaign unfolded — one in which he finished with a team-high 28 goals — and the 21-year-old forward was hoping to change that storyline in 2018-19.”
“Unfortunately for the Blackhawks forward, that hasn’t been the case, but DeBrincat’s stick has started to sizzle again and it helped lead his team to a 5-2 victory at Dallas on Thursday.”
The Blackhawks will need a red-hot DeBrincat keeping pace with Kane and Jonathan Toews on the score-sheet. If he succeeds DeBrincat’s goal of becoming a more consistent scoring threat every night should eventually help his team escape the basement of the Central Division.
The Chicago Blackhawks have struggled all season trying to find their identity. One of the few players stepping up has been DeBrincat. All season he has exemplified the passion missing with the Blackhawks as they searched for that elusive “Esprit De Corps” so necessary for every successful team. Ward became the latest player to speak up about what this team is missing. For more on this check out Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times:
“That’s probably what he told his teammates after the San Jose game when they watched a 3-2 lead flip to a 7-3 defeat.”
“The exact message Ward delivered is unknown, but its essence was a vow to be better. He couldn’t stomach letting them down and was adamant it wouldn’t happen again. The most Ward offered publicly was, “I did voice my displeasure, and as a leader, as a veteran guy, if you’re gonna do that then you gotta be able to back it up.”
Cam Ward speaking up in the locker room is a great sign for a team missing this kind of spark all season. Ward challenging his teammates to come together after they lost Crawford is a really good thing. Hopefully, they can use the loss of Crawford as that defining moment that will bring them together and make them play harder for each other the rest of the season.
When the season resumes after the Christmas break they’ll be facing the Minnesota Wild followed by the Avalanche. This will offer key divisional games against two teams that the Blackhawks are chasing in the Central. What better way to walk into Notre Dame Stadium on New Year’s Day than to win both of these games?