Blackhawks Down

Stephanie Racker   Nobody wants to have a star player injured, let alone three of the most important, but that’s what happened with the Chicago Blackhawks. Jonathan Toews, the team’s captain, has been out for nine games with a lower back injury. Brent Seabrook, one of the assistant captains and lead defenseman, has been out for his second game with a head injury. Corey Crawford, the starting goalie, has been out for the past five games and will be for another week due to an appendectomy. It’s typical for a team at some point to end up with a fundamental player out of their lineup, but the Hawks losing two captains and their starting goalie is more than just unlucky. It first started on November 23 in San Jose when Jonathan Toews mysteriously left during the second period of a game. Coach Joel Quenneville said the team didn’t expect the injury to be anything long-term, but that’s failed to be true— Toews will be going on his 13th missed game, assuming he doesn’t dress for anything other than practice anytime soon. More bad news hit the Hawks when assistant captain Brent Seabrook suffered a head injury during a game against the Arizona Coyotes on December 6. Seabrook has also started skating in practice again, which means that the Hawks shouldn’t be without one of their core members for too much longer. It’s bad enough to lose two out of your three captains, but the Hawks once again fell under a spell of bad luck when they lost their starting goalie. Although Chicago isn’t as reliant on their goalie as some NHL teams are (like the Montreal Canadiens), Corey Crawford plays a huge role in the success of the team. Coming off of his best professional season yet in 2015-2016, Crawford once again proved his worth, having come up big in many games this season. Unfortunately, during Chicago’s trip to Philadelphia on December 3, Crawford was rushed to the hospital the morning of the game and was quickly diagnosed with appendicitis. He required immediate surgery and has already begun his two week long recovery process. Injuries can shake up a team, and normally injuries of this scale tend to have a seriously negative effect. But despite having the odds stacked against them, the Chicago Blackhawks have yet again demonstrated the depth of their roster and ability to keep on producing. It may not be perfect, but the Hawks have maintained a 7-4-2 (wins, losses, overtime losses) record during this stretch. One key part in the team’s ability to stay afloat is Scott Darling, Chicago’s backup goalie since trading Antti Raanta two years ago. Darling’s managed to snag some wins for the team and has definitely made a statement through many impressive saves, giving the Blackhawks a fighting chance. Not only has the Hawks’ netminder stepped up, but the return of defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk has also proven to be an important part in filling up the empty defensive space left by Brent Seabrook. Van Riemsdyk had just returned from the injured reserve list himself, having missed all but six games of the season so far due to a knee issue. Despite the long break, van Riemsdyk has been logging over 20 minutes per game since his return, making it clear that Coach Quenneville is utilizing and relying on him in the absence of Brent Seabrook. With any luck, the Chicago Blackhawks won’t be stuck without three of their core players for much longer. Although it is unclear the exact date the players will return, the Chicago Blackhawks should be able to continue holding their own without them and exemplify how a team can persevere in the face of uncertainty. ]]>