Over the course of a long, 82-game regular season, there are games that serve as a catalyst that can either spark a stretch great, confident play or can send a team into a tailspin of mediocrity. Last year, Blackhawks fans saw the team come back from a five-goal deficit against Calgary in a game that gave the young players confidence that they could come back from any deficit.
On Monday night, the Blackhawks came back from a two-goal deficit against an elite goaltender for the second time in one week; they came back against Ryan Miller in Buffalo last Monday, and Monday night’s comeback against Jaroslav Halak could propel the Hawks into a stretch of strong play.
On Monday night, Blackhawks netminder Marty Turco played another outstanding game. He kept 32 of 34 shots out of the net (.941 save percentage), and very easily could have been one of the game’s three stars. Indeed, Turco should be the Number One star for the Blackhawks during their three game winning streak in just four days; Turco has allowed only seven goals on 107 shots, which is an astounding .935 save percentage. Heck, Turco even had an assist on Monday night.
But nobody cares that Turco exists. Why?
Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp.
The National Hockey League leader, Hossa’s seven goals in seven games is just one ahead of Sharp’s six goals. The two are alone in first and second in the league. Hossa’s 11 points are alone on top of the league as well, while Sharp’s eight points are tied for fourth. And even though Hossa was named the league’s Number Two star of the week for the first week of the season, he might have a fight from a teammate for the same honor at month’s end.
Quietly tied with Sharp for fourth in the league is Tomas Kopecky, who’s seven assists are one behind the league leaders and is more than half of his career high (13).
The Hawks are getting significant contributions from all over the roster, and are starting to establish the indentity of the Stanley Cup Championship team from last season.
During their three-game win streak, the Blackhawks have killed all 11 penalties they have taken. Their penalty kill is back in the league’s top ten, ranked eighth (88.5 percent). Meanwhile, despite frustrations at times, the Blackhawks have scored a power play goal in six of seven games this year and their 28.0 conversion rate ranks third in the NHL. It is still early, but both of these numbers are higher than the Blackhawks penalty kill (85.0 percent) and, more significantly, power play (17.7 percent) from last year.
As long as the Blackhawks have two players scoring at an elite level, opponents will struggle to keep up with the Blackhawks. When Patrick Kane (six points) and Jonathan Toews (four) join the party, this year’s team could be one the best offenses in the game.