Blackhawks dream season keeps getting better - FOX 35 News Orlando

Blackhawks dream season keeps getting better

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(AP Photo/Duane Burleson). Chicago Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger (16), of Sweden, tries to keep the puck away from Detroit Red Wings center Damien Brunner (24) in the first period of an NHL hockey game on Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson). Chicago Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger (16), of Sweden, tries to keep the puck away from Detroit Red Wings center Damien Brunner (24) in the first period of an NHL hockey game on Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Detroit.
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

In a Sunday matinee contest that can be described as simply a wonderful viewing experience the Blackhawks extended their NHL record to 22 games with a 2-1 shootout victory.

Neither the Hawks nor the Red Wings deserved to lose but in the end the better club came out on top. If the NHL could put this game in a bottle and reproduce it at will, hockey would be much more popular in the US than it is today.

When the NHL came back from the 2004 lockout rules were redefined and the center line offside was done away with. Gary Bettman and company seemingly thought the US audience would grow if more goals were scored. In reality increased scoring really hasn't happened but what has occurred is a faster more smooth flowing game.

Hockey played at a quick pace, without many penalties and with good goal tending is what sells. The US audience can focus on a great contest, like on Sunday, without longing for more scoring. Chicago and Detroit both displayed the finer points of the game and that is what matters most.

The Red Wings may have deserved a better fate but the Hawks carried most of the play.

If not for a strong performance by Detroit goal tender Jimmy Howard this one could have been decided before the second period was half over. Howard was great, and Corey Crawford was no slouch either. He made many big saves in the late going to give the Hawks a chance to keep the point streak alive.

The Blackhawks deserve the record they have but good fortune has played a part.

If not for a Detroit delay of game penalty in the final minutes of the third frame the streak might be over. As it turned out Patrick Kane made no mistake on a sweet give from Viktor Stalberg. Kane fired a power play goal past Howard at the 17:58 mark of the third period to even the score at one.

Kane, who I have called the best perimeter player in the game for a few years is showing he is better than that. Most likely Kane is still two or three years away from his prime but currently he is the best show in the NHL. No one can create more space and pass as well.

Even though the shootout is a hokey way to decide a game Kane has established himself as showman and effective sniper when the money is on the line. Kane scored the lone shootout goal as a helpless Howard couldn't do much but watch a perfectly placed wrist shot sail into the net. It was a wonderful sight for Hawk fans in what will be a game to be remembered.

It is great to see the Blackhawks record getting some national attention and there is no other way to describe the start of this season but to say it has simply been remarkable. The Hawks have now recorded a point in 28 consecutive games going back to last season. To put that into context their accomplishment ties the 1977-1978 Montreal Canadiens for the second longest point streak in NHL history.

Taking a look back in time, Montreal in the 1977-1978 campaign was coached by the legendary Scotty Bowman and they were a powerhouse. In an 80 game season the Habs recorded a 129 points and it gets even better. Their goal differential was an unbelievable 212. The Canadiens led the league in goals scored with 395 and had the fewest goals against, 183.

Montreal went on to win their third straight Stanley Cup and suffered a total of a mere three loses throughout the playoffs. For the Blackhawks to be mentioned in the same breath as the ‘77-‘78 Canadiens is an accomplishment in itself.

There is a long way to go and it wouldn't be wise to pencil the Hawks in the Cup Finals just yet. What should be savored is how special this truly amazing feat has been.

There isn't a lot of time for pats on the back as the season steams along. This week the schedule isn't much easier although the Hawks will play three of four games between Tuesday and Sunday at home.

Minnesota will be first up on Tuesday, followed by a visit from Colorado on Wednesday. The Avalanche will host the Blackhawks on Friday night and then the Oilers will make another visit to the UC on Sunday.

Playing the Wild and Avalanche probably shouldn't be looked at as a sure four points. Both clubs should be dialed on high as they are looking to secure a post season berth.

The hockey world awaits someone to outplay the Blackhawks or that they come up with a poor effort so the steak will end. Maybe it happens on Tuesday but until it is over Blackhawk fans and NHL followers should embrace this accomplishment.

Al's Shots

There seems to be some angst among Blackhawk faithful when Daniel Carcillo gets a first line role. No doubt Carcillo is a different player than rookie Brandon Saad.

Sometimes, in certain situations Carcillo will skate with Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews. Most likely the thinking is Carcillo will bring some added physicality which can create more space for the highly skilled duo.

I get the thinking but now let's connect the dots.

Last winter Carcillo underwent surgery on his left knee which knocked him out for the rest of the season. In March, only about two months after the surgery and long before his rehab was complete GM Stan Bowman signed Carcillo to a two year contract extension.

There are two things that need to be considered.

First Bowman saw an opportunity to get a player he valued at a decent price, $825,000 per season, so that could be why he resigned Carcillo so quickly. Secondly, Bowman inked Carcillo for not one but two years while he was still recovering from a fairly serious injury and that is most important.

Now let's use some hockey logic.

Fourth line grinders, goon types are never so highly valued they are signed to contract extension while still rehabbing from injury and before the current season is over. So it is fairly obvious Blackhawks management, including Joel Quenneville did not consider Carcillo as only a fourth line tough guy.

The other part of the puzzle is it was not a shock Saad was added to the roster out of training camp. No one else stood out from Rockford and when the Hawks gave Saad, straight out of Junior hockey a chance to play in last season's playoffs, it was obvious what management thought of his ability.

Saad had to be put in a position to succeed, one he was most comfortable with and that was on a top line. To ask a Saad to assume a more checking line role right away, probably wouldn't work.

Carcillo is a veteran, who can slide up and down the lineup. Management views Carcillo's role to be a versatile one although his skill level is not high end. The Hawks feel it is good enough to play with some of the best players.

The Hawks brass has made their choice, but mine before the season began would have been to skate Stalberg on the top line. Things won't change much now as the points keep piling up.

Hawk faithful should take a deep breath and enjoy the ride. Unless Carcillo has a total melt down and can't be trusted he will probably continue to have a place in the lineup.

I will be back at you on Wednesday.

Follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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