Since the last time you’ve heard from me, the Blackhawks have played 4 games, winning three in overtime and losing a tight one against the Jackets for a split of the second series. But rather than recap everything, I’m going to take a look at exactly what I’m thinking in terms of how goddamn grouchy I was at the start of the year compared to now.
To start, I really didn’t like the Colliton extension, especially amid that whole “we forgot to tell our Captain that we intend on committing to a rebuild” thing. That whole shitshow in and of itself was enough to have me looking for the exit before the season even started. However somehow, Coach Jeremy has figured out a way to take a young roster, missing some crucial pieces, and string together something of a hopeful stretch. Given the 0-4 start with 20 goals allowed, there was really nowhere to go but up. Since the road trip to Florida, the Hawks have 17 points in 12 games, and are closing the gap every so consistently in the Central. Colliton is playing 11 forwards and 7 defensemen which I don’t love, but far be it for me to stand in the way of progress because whatever he’s been doing lately has been working, picking up 6 out of a possible 8 points in the last week.
Moving onto the fact that we’re still missing Toews (who, as the season goes on, we continue to hear NOTHING about), who may or may not see the ice this season, and we spent a pretty healthy portion of the past few weeks missing DeBrincat and another handful of young guys who have been contributing since they’ve been back, including blue-liner Nic Beaudin picking up his first career goal this week, and doubling down later on in the week for his second. If this team can stay consistently healthy, they have the potential to be dangerous, albeit in a sneaky kind of way. At the very least, this young core is going to learn, develop and under the tutelage of the magician Patrick Kane, the future is very bright.
With guys like Kane and DeBrincat going at full steam, and Kevin Lankinen absolutely finding his home in the blue paint (comfortably sitting in the Top 10 for GAA), I’m getting more and more confident that this year, I’m going to get to watch playoff hockey that features the Chicago Blackhawks. As it currently stands, we’re sitting in a 4-way tie for second in the Central (having played more games than the Panthers and Canes) and sit only three points back of the defending champion Lightning. It’s early, but every day it gets less and less early and the pieces of the puzzle are finally finding themselves fitting together and I breathe a little easier and drink a little more out of enjoyment rather than stressed out rage. Not to mention we have the future rookie of the year in Pius Suter.
Given the nature of this season, nothing is going to come easy but it seems like the Hawks have come into it with and attitude that kind of feels like “fuck a rebuild” and I’m fully into it. Not only that, the Hawks are, at the time I’m writing this, 15 minutes away from taking the ice against the Detroit Red Wings (who, let’s face it….. yikes) looking to take home another W and keep closing the gap on that number one spot in the Central Division. I’m not booking my parade routes just yet, but there’s light on the horizon and I’ve shifted from hopeful to actively enjoying watching the Hawks play again.