By: Alex Patt
The Blackhawks have a nice win streak going as they defeated the Minnesota Wild 4-1 Sunday night at the United Center. They improved to 17-11-5 and have moved into the first Wild Card spot in the West. They are one point ahead of the Dallas Stars in the standings.
Not only did they beat a division rival, but they beat a division rival for the second-consecutive game. They defeated the Jets 5-1 in Winnipeg last week. Corey Crawford has started all five games of this win streak since coming off injured reserve, allowing just seven goals with a .956 save percentage. On top of that Patrick Kane has gotten hot again as he scored career goals 298 and 299 on Sunday as well as the overtime winning goal against the Panthers last week.
This is certainly good to see, but there are still some concerns moving forward. The defense is still banged up with Jan Rutta and Cody Franson being hurt. They hope to be back as soon as possible, maybe even the next game on Thursday night in Dallas. It is hard to rely on Crawford doing it all for such a long period of time.
The schedule coming up is certainly not a cakewalk. They will go on a long road trip to Dallas, New Jersey, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and New York (facing the Rangers). They will not return to the United Center until next year (1/5) when they play the Golden Knights. While just one of these is a division game, these are games they still want to get points in as they need all the points they can get. The race in the west is very tight.
There are 12 possible points on that road trip, if they could get at least eight, then that would be a successful trip. Beating Dallas would be big considering they are right behind the Hawks. Calgary and Vancouver are also just a few points back of the Hawks. Hopefully they keep their winning ways going.