Never count out the Chicago Blackhawks. After losing Patrick Kane, who suffered a broken clavicle 3 weeks ago, no one thought the Blackhawks would be in the position that they are in right now. When Kane went down with the injury the Hawks were 12 points out of the Central Division lead. The Blackhawks are now 7-1-1 since Kane has been out of action. In three weeks time, Nashville has lost the lead and has fallen into second place with 94 points as St. Louis is now in first place with 95 points. With still a lot of hockey left to play, Chicago is only 3 points behind St. Louis. A lot of this success has come from the Blackhawks’ willingness to win and from the depth on their roster. The additions of Antoine Vermette, Kimmo Timonen, and Andrew Desjardins have been the pieces of the puzzle that have been missing from this already deep team. There has also been a resurgence from Brad Richards as of late as he has played great hockey recently, most notably known for the game winner against the New York Rangers. By the time April 15th comes around, don’t be surprised if the Blackhawks are the number one or two seed in the central.
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The scary thing about a fully healthy Blackhawks team has always been the fact that even though Kane was their leading scorer (and at the time of his injury the leading scorer in the NHL) he was still, on most nights, skating on their second line. In the past nine games the Toews-Hossa-Saad trio has combined for 12 of the Blackhawks’ 22 goals (more than 54 percent). The team has managed just seven goals over that stretch when one of those three hasn’t been on the ice. Over the past nine games the duo of Corey Crawford and Darling has posted a .953 save percentage and only once given up more than two goals in a game (Darling surrendered four in their only regulation loss over that stretch against Tampa Bay). That stretch also includes two shutouts (one from each goalie) and four games where they allowed just a single goal.