[SBN Chicago Blackhawks blog - Second City Hockey]
If you thought the Blackhawks went crazy this offseason when the front office signed Marian Hossa to a 12-year deal worth $62.8 million then I don't know what to tell ya about the recent extension dished out to defenseman Duncan Keith. In a deal that will go down as the biggest in Blackhawks history, Keith signed a 13-year contract worth $72 million. And interestingly enough, the Hawks didn't stop there.
Earlier this week Chicago also announced extensions to both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, each five-year deals worth $31.5 million. While the offseason will likely find the Chicago front office dumping salaries left and right, it's not a focal point at the moment. With Toews, Kane, Keith, Hossa and Brian Campbell playing together for the next five years, Chicago will look to make the first serious Cup run since losing to the Pens in 1992.
November was a pretty solid run for the Hawks. Although the month kicked off with two-straight losses (one was in OT), Chicago put together an impressive eight-game streak to close out the month at 8-2-2. Getting a healthy Hossa back didn't exactly hurt either. The team's 37 points is good enough to put them at the top of the Central division, tying them with Calgary for second in the conference behind only San Jose.
But last night wasn't the sort of performance a team would expect in the wake of all these extensions. Nashville came to town and smacked Chicago around 4-1. Christobal Huet stopped 19 of 23 shots, while Brent Seabrook and Hossa connected with Toews for the only Chicago goal on the night.
Many have already been mentioned, but here are the guys you want to keep your eye on: Patrick Kane (9g, 17a), Duncan Keith (5g, 18a), Patrick Sharp (8g, 14a) and Jonathan Toews (7g, 10a). Also worth mentioning is Marian Hossa, who in five games back has five points (2g, 3a).
Hard to say right now if Huet will get the start in the second half of the back to back, or if instead we'll see the likes of Antti Niemi, who's 4-1-1 on the season with two shutouts.
Last season in the only game between Pittsburgh and Chicago, the Pens held on to force OT and win 5-4 thanks to an Evgeni Malkin PP goal. Toews had a hat trick, with each goal coming on the power play. You may remember the collection of red Blackhawks helmets that came raining down on the ice. (Twice if I remember correctly, since I believe the first goal suspected of being his third was disallowed).
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