While it may seem as if the Blackhawks are at a disadvantage playing so many games away from the United Center this early in the season, the heavy road schedule is actually very beneficial to the team.
In their first 11 games of the 2013 season, the Blackhawks have played only two games on home ice—both games resulted in victories over Central Division rivals.
In the nine games away from Chicago, the Blackhawks are 7-0-2—which is the best away record in the NHL. They also lead the NHL with 20 points in 11 games to start this shortened 48-game season.
Why are the Blackhawks so good on the road?
Is it because of their depth and their ability to play all four lines in any situation on the ice? Or are special teams finally breaking through and pushing the 'Hawks to the top of the NHL?
Both of those have some part in the Blackhawks' 9-0-2 record, but the real answer is simple: Playing on the road is helping this team develop some unbelievable chemistry. It helps that much of the current roster remained intact after last season. GM Stan Bowman decided to leave what he had and pick up a couple of defensemen this offseason for depth on the blue line.
After all, Bowman believes that the roster he has now can win a Stanley Cup (via the Chicago Tribune):
We have all the elements there. A lot will change in terms of how players progress (and) the health of your team. I certainly like the balance we have. We're (not) relying on one or two or three players to get it done. Even if you don't have injuries, you're not going to have all players clicking all year long—guys are going to hit cold streaks. If you count on them (always) to carry the load for you, you might be in trouble.
When a team brings back a majority of its players after a full offseason, there is bound to be good chemistry between lines.
Playing on the road also helps with chemistry; teammates are able to bond with one another and become friends off the ice. This is what's happening with the Blackhawks. Teammates understand each other, chemistry is developing and they are playing as a team.
In essence, the heavy road schedule that the Blackhawks are facing is the best thing that could have happened to them. In some ways, they may even be lucky to get all this time to figure out just what kind of team they're supposed to be.
Everybody on this team is standing up and playing the role they were assigned to play.
Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik are finding tremendous success on the penalty kill, while Dave Bolland is filling in as the second-line center in an almost seamless fashion.
The goaltending duo of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery seem to have been rejuvenated from last season—both of them coming up big when the Blackhawks break down on defense. Crawford is playing with all the confidence in the world right now.
Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane are leading the Blackhawks offensively, partially due to their commitment to backcheck and help out in the defensive zone.
All of this is a complete turnaround from last season, and all of this can be brought back to team chemistry and their understanding of Chicago's system.
This team is gelling, and chemistry has a whole lot to do with their dominance thus far.
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