Key to the Chicago Blackhawks' Success: The All-Star Break

Craig NuzzoCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2009

The Chicago Blackhawks (25-12-8) were shut out by the St. Louis Blues (19-23-4) on Wednesday, Jan. 23 by a score of 2-0. The loss was devastating, especially since they were at the Friendly Confines of the United Center.

The 'Hawks hold the fourth spot in the Western Conference with 58 points, while the Blues place 15th with only 42 points. Not to mention, I was disappointed in the Tony Amonte "ceremony." It consisted of him smiling, waving, and dropping the first puck. Almost as lame as the first ceremonial pitch in baseball.

The 'Hawks need to make some adjustments if they want to continue their superb play after the All-Star break.

Let me break down my thoughts.

Tips for Joel and Co.

1. Short and simple, stay healthy. Patrick Kane has been nursing an ankle injury, and should keep off it much as possible during the break. Hopefully, the All-Star game doesn't do any harm.

Recently, the last game vs. the Blues, Kris Versteeg suffered a hand injury in the second period. Hopefully it is not too serious, and no word as if he will play in the YoungStars game Saturday or not as of yet.

Not to mention, Brent Sopel is still on the Injured Reserve, and Duncan Keith is still on the bench. As a devoted Chicago (Cubs) fan I am familiar to the "injury effect" on sports. Let's not have this happen to the brilliant 'Hawks.

2. Stick with the hot goalie stick. As of late, Cristobal Huet has been very impressive. He has almost matched the "No. 1" goaltender: Nikolai Khabibulin, in the statistics and between the pipes.

Huet has a record of 12-8, while Khabibulin is 13-4. The only stat that Huet stands stronger against is the GAA by .07, Huet stands at 2.30 and Khabibulin at 2.37. This makes me feel a lot more comfortable in the long run if Khabibulin is to leave the team, and Huet takes over full-time.

3. Score some more goals. I don't know the exact numbers, but as of late the 'Hawks have not put up as many goals as they did earlier in the season. I remember all those three-plus, five-plus, and even six-plus goal games. Where have they gone? We need goals to contend in the playoffs.

4. Believe. We need to have faith in our Chicago hockey team. I know I do. The 'Hawks have not won a Stanley Cup in awhile, 47 seasons to be exact. With the youngest team in the NHL, the 'Hawks have shown inconsistency as of late. It happens in all sports. It's a cold-streak type situation. I believe the All-Star break can turn that around.

5. Beat divisional rivals; Blues and Red Wings. The 'Hawks have lost all four games against the Wings, and have not played well with the Lou either. That needs to turn around. Especially, since the next two games against the Wings come close to the end of the season, which could prove valuable for the Blackhawks' playoff picture.

If some, most, or any of these five improvements can be made, the 'Hawks will be able to enter the playoff picture in this 2008-2009 season. A feat they have not made since 2002.

Who knows? Maybe this could be the year! 


Also, make sure to watch the All-Star game on Versus, Sunday, Jan. 25 at 5:00 CT, and GO WESTERN CONFERENCE!