It's been some sort of test for the Chicago Blackhawks early on in this season. Proving that you're still a top contender in the league after a championship year can prove fatal the next season. But the Blackhawks are looking as sharp as ever.
Faced with some very difficult games this week, including St. Louis and Vancouver, the Blackhawks haven't lost one yet, but have played with the same grace and dominance we saw last year.
The offense is beginning to spark again. Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Thomas Kopecky all have stepped up their game from last year and all are making huge contributions to the team offensively.
While showered in doubt at the beginning of the season, Marty Turco is beginning to shine in the net. The defense hasn't always been there for him, but he steps up his game to a whole new level, making crazy and outrageous saves under pressure. The goaltender is always the most overlooked player on the ice, but without a good one there's no way a team can expect to win.
Can the Blackhawks keep this kind of magic going? They've won four in a row as of Friday with a game against St. Louis Friday night.
There is no reason to feel like the Blackhawks will lose their spark. They've been getting a lot of support from their veteran players, but most importantly, their young players.
They should only get better once Brian Campbell returns in a couple of week, a recovery that will substantially help out the defense, who are now working on some weird pairings that are still having some chemistry problems.
There's still a long season ahead, but the Blackhawks are showing that they are a strong team in the early-going of the season, which is always a plus. Under great coaching and management, the Blackhawks will continue to thrive as long as they continue to work together as a team.