MORRISSEY: Blackhawks have looked magnificent – ‘reportedly’
BY RICK MORRISSEY email@example.com February 11, 2013 8:14PM
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 07: Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks reacts after scoring a first period power play goal past goaltender Mike Smith #41 of the Phoenix Coyotes during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on February 7, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The 2006-07 Ducks hold the NHL record for most games played to start a season without a regulation loss. That team went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Updated: February 19, 2013 7:08PM
Ever since the Manti Te’o strangeness, I’ve been very careful about checking facts. When a Notre Dame football star says his girlfriend died of leukemia and it turns out she never existed, well, it gives a reporter pause.
So you can understand my uneasiness about the Blackhawks, who have reportedly built a 10-0-2 record almost entirely away from Chicago. The word “reportedly’’ is one of those journalistic safety nets. It can mean “other people are reporting this’’ or “I wasn’t able to confirm this myself’’ or “if you believe this, I have some rare Canadian ice you might be interested in buying.’’
I might as well get to the obvious questions right away: Is it possible we’ve been catfished by some people pretending to be the Hawks? Have we been lured into a phony, long-distance relationship?
How many of you have actually seen the Hawks play in person this season? Lots of you have fallen in love with a team that has had only two home games so far. Sure, the road games have been on television, but so were the Apollo moon landings and I think we all know what happened there.
When you do see the Hawks via the pixels on your TV, everything seems so perfect. You spend hours watching your heroes. They go out of their way to make life wonderful for you. But when it comes to actually getting together with them, there’s always an excuse: “Oh, we’re in Calgary’’ or “Sorry, babe, we’re just about to get on a plane for San Jose. Can I call you later?’’
Is it possible there’s a “virtual Hawks” team with a “virtual 10-0-2 record’’ run by a guy with a “virtual Joel Quenneville moustache?” I don’t know. I do know that the Hawks play the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night at the United Center, and it will be interesting to see them at home for the first time in more than two weeks. If it is them.
Except for the Blackhawks’ home opener Jan. 22 against the St. Louis Blues, I have not seen the Hawks in person this season.
They lead the NHL in victories and points, which is amazing for a team that finished fourth in the Central Division last season. And you’re telling me they’ve done it with Patrick Sharp going scoreless in the last eight games? I’m sorry, but this story seems a little too good to be true.
I’ve seen some things that make me wonder about these “Hawks.’’ For example, “Patrick Kane’’ has been playing without his trademark mouth guard. If that’s not a giveaway that something nefarious is afoot, I don’t know what is. Kane not gnawing at a mouth guard is like Dave Bolland not jawing at an opponent. This Kane has been brilliant, with nine goals and 10 assists in 12 games. This Kane also has been a model citizen so far. Hmmmm.
“Corey Crawford’’ is among the league leaders in goals-against average (1.62) and save percentage (.935). In a 3-0 victory Sunday, he picked up the Hawks’ first shutout since the 2011 playoffs. All of a sudden he’s whispering sweet 3-nothings to you, and you’re not suspicious? Wake up and smell the Bengay!
“Jonathan Toews’’ reportedly has been seen with a smile on his face, which doesn’t fit his Captain Serious persona at all. He even has said he hasn’t had a lot of captaining to do with all the winning. We’re supposed to sit here and believe that? This is a guy who would try to inspire traffic cones, given the opportunity.
Quenneville was supposed to be on the hot seat this season. Instead, he’s in the catbird seat, and I don’t even know what that is. If he starts being expansive with the media about Hawks’ injuries, you’ll know this whole thing is a complete fraud.
So far, there are very few things that suggest the Blackhawks are human this season. They are in the middle of the pack in power-play scoring percentage (18.4), but they make up for it by being tied for first with the Boston Bruins in penalty killing (92.9 percent). Does anything else about them look mortal? Not that I can see.
Last season, the Hawks went 2-7 on their Circus Trip. Now that’s believable.
This? This is preposterous.
I wonder what the NHL record is for most games without a loss to start a season. I’ll have to ask Mark Lazerus, who reportedly covers the Hawks for the Sun-Times. Then again, nobody has seen him either.