The Hawks annual Circus Trip came to a close with a strong victory against Phoenix on Saturday night, and the results of the seven games show that the Hawks are playing as well as any team in the NHL.
Chicago lost the first game of the trip 5-1 in Denver.
After that, they rolled.
In the six games that followed, the Blackhawks out-scored their opponents 22-10, and allowed more than two goals only once (at Winnipeg).
Patrick Kane had five goals and four assists on the trip. In November, Kane registered a point in 13 of 15 games and posted 19 total points (9 goals, 10 assists).
Duncan Keith also had a point in 13 of 15 November games; he had more multi-point games (three) than point-less games (two) in the month. Keith finished November with one goal and 15 assists in 15 games.
The Blackhawks were 9-0-1 in the ten games in which Marian Hossa played. Hossa, who missed five games because of a lower-body injury and a family issue, had ten points (six goals, four assists) in ten games in the month, and finished the trip with two goals and three assists in four games.
Jonathan Toews had six points (two goals, four assists) on the trip, but four of those points came in Winnipeg. However, Toews won 75 of 137 faceoffs (54.7 percent) on the trip, and won at least half of his draws in five of the seven games.
Chicago got great contributions from their superstars, but their depth made an enormous impact on the trip as well.
Andrew Shaw had four goals and one assist, Marcus Kruger had one goal and three assists, Ben Smith had one goal and two assists and Brandon Bollig had one goal and one assist on the trip.
Niklas Hjalmarsson, who was credited with the game-winning goal in Phoenix, had three assists on the trip as well.
Speaking of game-winners, four different Blackhawks were credited with the deciding tally in the Hawks’ six wins (not including Smith’s shootout winner in Dallas). Kane had two while Hossa, Kruger and Hjalmarsson were each credited with one.
Corey Crawford took the loss against Colorado, but earned victories in four of the next six games. In his four starts after the Denver debacle, Crawford stopped 110 of 116 shots (.948 save percentage).
Antti Raanta stepped in and won two of the final three games on the trip, allowing only four goals against 55 shots (.927 save percentage) in Calgary and Phoenix.
The Hawks killed 14 of 18 penalties in the seven games, including 11 of 13 in the last five games of the trip.
Certainly there were some issues. Taking 18 penalties in seven games isn’t a great number, and there were a few periods on the trip in which the Hawks didn’t look very good. But they won games, and will return to the United Center as the top team in the NHL.