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Hawks Continue To Rise as Deadline Nears


It's been over a calendar month since the Chicago Blackhawks lost a game in regulation. Over those 13 games, the Hawks have gone 11-0-2, including big victories over division rivals in Dallas, Nashville, and Winnipeg. They currently sit second in the Central Division, building out a small lead over the Predators and creating distance between themselves and the Jets. The Blackhawks are also sitting third in the overall points standings in the EHE.

With the trade deadline less than a week away, the question that begs to be answered is this: why mess with that's working?

It's a complicated question. The regular season is the proving ground that ultimately separates the pretenders from the contenders. But once the playoffs start, it's a forgotten memory. How you get in matters far less than how you perform moving forward, and chemistry established over those 82 games means a lot less once the Dance starts than it once did.

And with Chicago, who has been very active over the past two trade deadlines, not having moved past the first round in those years, does adding to a roster already firing on all cylinders (and one that's perilously close to the salary cap as it is) make sense?

The short answer is...it could. Or it could backfire.

"We approach the deadline like we do almost any other day of the year," said Hawks GM Thomas Gidlow. "If we're happy with where we are and see us going, we probably wouldn't make a drastic change. But as teams position themselves and things start becoming clearer, there are opportunities. You just have to weigh whether those opportunities are worth the cost."

The offense has been hot over the past month, with 53 goals in the past 13 contests (over four goals per game). The Blackhawks have given up 34 tallies over that same span, under three goals a game. Special teams continue to be a baffling mystery, as Chicago sits 24th on the power play (16.1%) and 23rd on the penalty kill (79.2%) with 18 games left on the schedule.

"(Special teams) have been an area we've looked to improve all year," says Hawks head coach Rick Tocchet. "When we've needed a timely goal or a timely stop, we've largely gotten it. But regardless of the stats, it's hard to point at one thing and say 'that's it'. We definitely want to do better there."

Back to team chemistry. After trades that brought in Jeff Skinner, Ryan Ellis, Dylan DeMelo, and Brett Kulak, the Blackhawks have gone 17-6-4. Other than acquiring Richard Panik and Sonny Milano, Chicago has stood largely pat throughout that period. It's clear that momentum is on their side, and the team has gelled well.

"Obviously we've come together and played well together," said captain Zach Parise. "But we know this time of year that anything can happen. We know management wants to do whatever they can to build a winner, so it's our job to make their decisions hard."

The question remains - why mess with a good thing? And another - does Gidlow believe this team can advance deep into the playoffs for the first time in his tenure? And yet another - does he spend future assets to try to tweak things for the present?

Chicago has a deeper talent pool of young emerging players than they have since Gidlow took over. Adding Milano to the mix only increases their cupboard. Plus, with Chicago just a few bucks away from the cap ceiling, who would move out in a trade?

All good questions, and no easy answers.

At least we'll find out by next Sunday.

Chip Whitley
Blackhawks Beat Reporter

Martins Auzins

Very nice article. Looking forward to what will Hawks do this deadline, the team is on fire

Hawks Continue To Rise as Deadline Nears
Will Chicago make tweaks ahead of the trade deadline?

• 1 teams Like this  2 months
Kyle Phillips

Really good article. Always cool to get an update that isn't necessarily about something huge, just the ups and downs of the season.

Hawks Continue To Rise as Deadline Nears
Will Chicago make tweaks ahead of the trade deadline?

• 1 teams Like this  2 months