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MUSICK: Hawks’ start is bananas

Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 10:59 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, March 7, 2013 8:13 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Charles Rex Arbogast)
Chicago Blackhawks left wing Daniel Carcillo, left, shoots and scores the winning goal past Colorado Avalanche defenseman Shane O'Brien (5) and goalie Semyon Varlamov, of Russia, with under a minute left in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, March 6, 2013, in Chicago. The Blackhawks won 3-2. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHICAGO – Talk about a glass that is half-full.

Half of the NHL’s 48-game regular season is history, and the Blackhawks keep making it.

At 21-0-3, the record-setting Hawks have earned at least a point in every single game.

Think about that for a moment.

Every. Single. Game.

It would be sort of like the Cubs playing their first 81 games without a nine-inning loss.

The Hawks keep collecting points despite regular doses of adversity. In Wednesday’s 3-2 comeback win against the Colorado Avalanche, the Hawks overcame the absences of four injured forwards: Marian Hossa and Michael Frolik before the game, and Andrew Shaw and Patrick Sharp during the game.

Of those, Sharp’s injury could be the most serious. He was crunched against the boards in the third period, and he hunched over in pain before going to the locker room.

“He may miss some time,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

It’s a hurdle, yes, but the Hawks have leaped over hurdles throughout the season.

Hawks captain Jonathan Toews marveled at his team’s determination to win. He celebrated with his teammates after Daniel Carcillo scored with 49.3 seconds remaining in regulation time to lift the Hawks to a win.

“A lot of people might think we’re pulling that game out of you-know-where, but really, we’re working for it,” Toews said. “There’s no special equation or whatever. There’s no magic going on. It’s just work ethic.”

Every. Single. Game.

Let’s hand out some midseason awards.

Most Valuable Player: Patrick Kane

Say it with me: Kanerrrr. The Hawks’ sixth-year forward always has had electric playmaking skills, but the difference this season has been his terrific consistency. Kane has notched at least one point in 19 of 24 games this season, and he is fully capable of doing something amazing every time he has the puck.

Mr. Clutch Award: Marian Hossa

Big-time players make big-time plays, and fans from Slovakia to Seneca Township would agree that Hossa is a big-time player. Hossa has four game-winning goals, which is twice as many as any of his teammates and is tied for third-best in the NHL.

Captain Faceoff Award: Jonathan Toews

Toews has won almost 60 percent of his faceoffs, which puts him in the top four in the NHL among players with at least 250 attempts. If Toews is this good at every one-on-one competition, watch out. He could be a rock-paper-scissors superstar.

Big Shooter Award: Patrick Sharp

No wonder Sharp named his dog Shooter (really, he did). Sharp is not afraid to shoot from any angle, which is a big reason why he leads the team with 78 shots. It doesn’t take a high-percentage shot to create rebounds and scoring opportunities.

I Told You So Award: Corey Crawford

During training camp, Crawford patiently answered questions about his subpar 2011-12 season. Deep down, it was clear that he was annoyed. Now, he has silenced his critics with an incredible 1.53 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage.

Holy Hip Check Award: Bryan Bickell

Bickell is a behemoth at 6-foot-4 and 233 pounds, and he happily takes advantage of that size to plaster opponents into the boards. The gap-toothed forward from Ontario leads the Hawks with 56 hits, including five Wednesday against the Avalanche.

Not Old Enough To Drink Award: Brandon Saad

Quick, somebody get this kid a glass of lemonade! Saad, who will not turn 21 years old until Oct. 27, has blossomed as a top-line forward. He’s on his way to earning millions, which eventually will come in handy for those $7.50 stadium beers.

Ouch Ouch Ouch Award: Brent Seabrook

Every hockey player has a little bit of craziness pumping through his veins, but Seabrook is wilder than most. Game after game, he willingly drops to the ice whenever an opponent winds up to shoot. That’s why Seabrook leads the team with 57 blocked shots, including a blast to the mid-section that sidelined him for a game Feb. 19.

Most Valuable Swede: Viktor Stalberg

In a tough bracket that included fellow Swedes Marcus Kruger, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya, it was Stalberg who emerged as, well, the victor. Stalberg is tied for fourth on the Hawks with six goals to go along with seven assists, and he has made general manager Stan Bowman look smart for trading Kris Versteeg two years ago.

You Wanna Go? Award: Jamal Mayers

This award would have gone to Brandon Bollig, who piled up 40 penalty minutes in 11 games, but Bollig was demoted to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs on Wednesday. That leaves Mayers, a well-respected veteran who stood up to cheap-shot artist Raffi Torres when the Hawks played the Phoenix Coyotes on Feb. 7.

Record Book Award: Everyone

The Blackhawks have captivated a sports-crazy city and caught the attention of the nation. They have earned 45 out of a possible 48 points, which is 100 percent bananas. If the second half is anywhere close to this exciting, we’ll be really, really, really spoiled.

• Northwest Herald sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at tmusick@shawmedia.com and on Twitter @tcmusick.

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