It seems that the hockey gods read Hooked on Hockey articles. The Blackhawks have turned some of their struggles into strengths in their recent games and have come away with both wins and momentum.
Chicago took on the Ottawa Senators and the game was an opportunity to boost the stats for shooters on both teams. Though it was Chicago captain Jonathan Toews who tallied his third career hat-trick to help give Chicago the win. Toews again shows why he wears the ‘C’ on his jersey and why nobody on the team has a problem with that.
Along with Toews, all-star Marion Hossa tallied his 100th goal as a Chicago Blackhawk on the night. Though not a record-setting milestone, the goal cements Hossa in the history of the Blackhawks. Hossa’s move to Chicago was career changing as it finally allowed Hossa to put his name on the Stanley Cup, twice. Along with his Cup wins, he became the 85th player in NHL history to score 400 career goals. And he did it in a Blackhawks sweater.
Even though his career isn’t over yet, and the end isn’t soon, Hossa will forever be a Blackhawk due to his contributions on the score-sheet and the memories he’s given Chicago since his move to the Windy City in July of 2009. Even his contract signing, a twelve-year deal worth $62.8 million was headline worthy in Chicago.
While wearing his now comfortable Blackhawks jersey on Tuesday night, Hossa took on the team that first drafted him into NHL service back in 1997.
Ottawa was in the lead at several points in the game, including early on. With Nikolai Khabibulin starting in net for Chicago, eyebrows were certainly raised, but not in a positive way for the Blackhawks.
Khabibulin would eventually be pulled for Corey Crawford and The Crow would help move the game to the win column.
Khabibulin’s rough start to the game validated the fans who took advantage of the lowest Blackhawk ticket prices of the season. For $43, fans could get in the door to watch Toews’ hat-trick and Crawford’s save.
Toews’ fun continued as Chicago next traveled to Winnipeg to take on the Jets. The game was a reunion of sorts as it was the first time in his professional career that Toews played NHL hockey in his hometown. Toews would comment to the press that the game would be an emotional one, and rightfully so.
Chicago hadn’t played a regular season game in Winnipeg since February of 1996. Though, it was the first of four meetings this season for the new division rivals.
It was a reunion for more players than just Toews, however. Former Blackhawks Michael Frolik, Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien are all on the Winnipeg roster. Frolik would comment that though he wore a different jersey, he still had a close connection to the guys whose names are etched next to his on the Stanley Cup.
For the most part, the Blackhawks are on the start of an upswing. It looks like they can start to string some wins together and show glimmers of the stellar team that won the Cup last season. However, there are some serious questions surrounding Khabibulin and his solidarity in net. Though his career is long, and there are whispers in dark rooms of Khabibulin hanging up his skates, he still has the potential to play like he did seasons ago. If he does, and Chicago’s sharp-shooters can put the puck in the net on a regular basis, Chicago will continue to be one of the strongest aspects of the NHL lineup.