Fifteen games into the NHL season, Chicago Blackhawks fans have to be happy.
The Blackhawks are 9-2-4 and sit in the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference’s Central Division, with six wins and an overtime loss in the last 10 games, good for 13 points out of a potential 20. A 3-2 setback to the less-than-spectacular Calgary Flames is a bit disheartening for Chicago but they’ll bounce back, especially with the next three outings being played against Winnipeg, Dallas and Edmonton, the bottom of the Western Conference barrel.
Starting Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford is looking good between the pipes, although ESPN analyst Barry Melrose would like to see more out of backup Nikolai Khabibulin.
“Right now, Chicago is still one of the four or five best teams in the NHL, but Corey Crawford is playing the bulk of the games. Why, because Khabibulin hasn’t been very good,” Melrose said.
“Khabibulin on paper should be a perfect backup,” Melrose added. “Chicago needs a good Khabibulin to give Corey Crawford a rest but also to push Corey a little bit.”
While Khabibulin’s first start of 2013 for the Chicago Blackhawks was a 6-5 win over the Ottawa Senators, the Blackhawks were on the other side of that margin after Khabibulin’s start against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team with which he won the Stanley Cup in 2003.
Khabibulin notwithstanding, the Blackhawks had to be happy about heading to the White House to visit with President Barack Obama. The 2012-2013 Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks went to Washington, as all championship teams do, but with the president being from Chicago, the visit had a bit more meaning than some might. After all, they’re the only Chicago team to make the trip since he’s been in office.
“To the Bulls, Bears, Cubs, White Sox – I am term-limited, so you guys have got to get moving. I need to see you here soon. Championships belong in Chicago,” President Obama said.
That meet and greet wasn’t the first the Blackhawks have had, having won the Cup in 2010 as well, and Yahoo Sports writer Scott Cook says—in a piece entitled “Have the Blackhawks Found the Cure for the Stanley Cup Hangover?”—they may have what it takes to do it again.
“With a juggernaut of a power play and four lines rolling, the team could achieve the unthinkable: repeat as Stanley Cup champions in the salary cap era.”
Do the Chicago Blackhawks have what it takes to win the big one two years in a row?