We’ve reached the halfway point of the regular season. We’ve had the Winter Classic. We’ve still got the Stadium Series to come. It’s an exciting time across the league.
The Chicago Blackhawks are currently in a good position: second in the Central Division, third in the Western Conference, and fifth in the League. Not bad for a team that perhaps didn’t have the best start to the year. There have been some key players that have helped the Blackhawks reach where they are currently, and, if this continues, they’ll have a shot at retaining the Stanley Cup too.
The main man of the moment, Patrick Kane. He recently achieved the longest point streak for an American born
player, recording an impressive 16 goals and 24 assists in 26 games, also earning himself the franchise record for this achievement. The Blackhawks acknowledged his accomplishment by presenting him with a gold puck.
Kane currently sits at the very top of the League’s top point scorers as well, with a total 60 points. It doesn’t stop there for him either. It was announced last week that Kane has been elected to captain the Central Division team at the NHL All-Star game at the end of the month, with his own captain Jonathan Toews joining him there.
Kane has been one of the Blackhawks’ key players for several seasons now, and he will remain that way for a long time yet.
Another superstar for the Blackhawks, and Kane’s line mate, is rookie Artemi Panarin. The Russian born 24-year-old is sitting ten points ahead of anyone else at the top of the leading rookie point scorers in the league. In recent games, Panarin has proved himself, particularly in the two matches against the Pittsburgh Penguins where he scored two goals in each game. In the first game of the two, Panarin scored the crucial overtime game winning goal.
Panarin has shown time and time again that he is worth it. There have already been some similarities between himself and the Hawks captain Jonathan Toews. Panarin scored on his first shot in his first NHL game against the New York Rangers, almost eight years on to the day that Toews did the same thing but against the San José Sharks. One other similarity is that Panarin became the first Blackhawk rookie to score two goals in a single period since the captain did eight years previously. Panarin has fast become the one to watch in the entire NHL.
One obvious standout player for the Blackhawks has to be defenseman Duncan Keith. He is, and has been, a huge part of the success of the Hawks in recent years. Keith was last season’s Conn Smythe trophy winner, for which there wasn’t much other competition.
He has always shown that he can be relied on at any moment. Earlier this season, Keith was out for ten games after requiring knee surgery. During those games, the Blackhawks could only manage to secure victories for half of them. Upon his return, Keith got straight back down to business scoring the opening goal, and helping the Hawks get the win. It is because of this, and much more, that Keith will always be one of the key players, not just for the Blackhawks, but in the league too.
Someone else that has proven to be a key factor in this season’s team is goaltender Corey Crawford. The Crow leads the NHL in shutouts, with so far having six to his name. When he’s on top of his game, Crawford is hard to get anything past.
Crawford’s style of play has earned him a lot of respect across the league. Last season, he was selected to play in the All-Star game alongside teammates Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith after a fan vote, and then went on to win his second Stanley Cup, shutting out the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Final. Looking at the way Crawford has been playing for the past six years, it’s fair to say that he is a big part of the reason the Blackhawks have been so successful in that time. This season, he is showing no signs of letting that slide.
With still half of the regular season to go, the Blackhawks need to keep their key players focused. The playoffs aren’t that far away, and they’ll need all the strength, offensively as well as defensively, they can muster.
I currently live in Luton, United Kingdom and I am big a fan of the Milton Keynes Lightning (English Premier League) and the Chicago Blackhawks.
I write match previews and other articles for the Milton Keynes Lightning website and I also help to write and put together articles for the match night programme.
I am a Media Performance graduate but my passion lies with ice hockey