Going 4-0-0 in the first four games of this shortened season, something the franchise hasn't done since the 1972-73 season, the Blackhawks are looking to continue their winning streak.
But why the sudden success, and why are the Blackhawks finally clicking on the power-play and penalty-kill units?
The simple answer is that this team has more chemistry and is more experienced thanks in part to what happened last season.
It's never easy playing with different teammates every season—something the Blackhawks have become accustomed to after winning the Stanley Cup in 2010. Retaining relatively the same roster from last season will help a team develop better chemistry and thus more consistency.
The Blackhawks are rolling with all four lines again, including all six defensemen that are active in the offense.
Captain Jonathan Toews said that it's important to have the depth and consistency to compete for a playoff spot in the NHL (via ESPNChicago):
It's been a good thing the last couple of games; we've rolled four lines. I think it's one of the things we're going to really try to reinforce with our team this year. Everyone can go out there and do a job whether it's a forward for the first line or you're checking their first line or not. We each rely on everybody to do certain things. When guys go out there, they have to know who they're up against. And we've really relied on that depth in the last three wins.
The first line of Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa has already developed great chemistry. Saad has fit right into his role at left wing filling in for injured Daniel Carcillo. The second line of Patrick Sharp, Dave Bolland and Patrick Kane also has some special chemistry that helps them to click every game.
Bolland has embraced his role as the new second-line center, already producing three points in his first four games at the position.
Considering that all these players—minus Saad—know each other quite well, it's not a shock that they are able to play well together.
Defense is also clicking, with the 'Hawks improving on their ability to get the puck out of their own defensive zone.
Nick Leddy has really stepped up his performance from last season and is contributing nicely on Chicago's second defensive line.
But again, familiarity between teammates is breeding a winning team. It looks as if the Blackhawks came right from a full training camp; every player is contributing in more ways than one.
The only question to this winning team is their goaltending. Corey Crawford and Ray Emery have had their share of great saves and goose eggs this season.
Every player on the Blackhawks roster remembers last season: Their shocking loss in the first round of the playoffs to the Phoenix Coyotes.
This team is playing with a chip on its shoulder, wanting to prove to the NHL that it is better than a first-round exit. Combine that grudge with team chemistry, and the Blackhawks are expected to start 4-0-0.
Just how far can team chemistry and skill get this team?
It proved to be very valuable to the 2010 Stanley Cup-winning team—that same team having four lines and six active defensemen.
Similarities between 2010 and this season are eerily close, but it's probably best to ignore those so early in the year.
For what it's worth, this is a Blackhawks team with a mission. Anything short of a deep playoff run will be a complete failure.
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