For all the household names that dawn the beautiful Chicago Blackhawks’ sweater, they are one deep hockey team beyond their star players. The Hawks just trounced the Winnipeg Jets 5-1 in Jonathan Toews return to the city he called home in his pre NHL days. However, it wasn’t Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa disassembling the Jets defence on this day. Aside from one unbelievable goal by Patrick Sharp, the Hawks offensive production came from a cast of unlikely heros.
Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brandon Bollig, Nick Leddy and Ben Smith scored a goal each in the Hawks victory. Bollig added an apple, as did Andrew Shaw, while Marcus Kruger recorded two. Depth wins hockey games and depth wins Stanley Cups. With the Hawks, the depth is homegrown, often drafted, and developed within the system.
Brandon Bollig was an un-drafted free agent signing of the Hawks in 2010. Since then he has gradually earned a spot in the Hawks lineup as an enforcer who can actually play. The performance of Bollig, Smith, Leddy, Shaw and Kruger exemplifies how good the Hawks are. They don’t lose often because they have so many players who can step up and make a difference on a nightly basis.
The Hawks are 9-2-3 to start the season. 21 points in the standings tie them with the Anaheim Ducks for second most points in the NHL. A lot of attention has been given to the surprising Colorado Avalanche, exciting San Jose Sharks, and defensively sound St. Louis Blues, but the Hawks are doing it again. They are dominating the NHL in what could be a very special year. If they manage to win the Stanley Cup next spring, it will be their 3rd championship title in 5 seasons. The last team to win 3 Cups in five tries was the 1980’s Edmonton Oilers. Pretty elite company.