Despite a horrific week that felt like a bad Twilight Zone episode, the Chicago Blackhawks have regained the top spot in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks are tied with the San Jose Sharks with 96 points, but the Hawks have the tie breaker because of more wins.
Both teams have struggled since the Olympic break, with the Sharks losing their last three games and the Hawks having won only one in their last four. The Western Conference is now a four horse race with the Coyotes just three points behind and the Vancouver Canucks just five points behind.
The Blackhawks are facing some tough adversity at the moment with three of their top four defencemen out with injury. Most notably Brian Campbell, who will miss the next 7-8 weeks after a reckless check from behind from Alex Ovechkin. Just one game later Brent Seabrook was on the receiving end of a check that saw Ducks defencemen James Wisniewski suspended 8 games. Seabrook appears to have a concussion. Kim Johnsson is also out with an upper body injury and it is not yet known how long both Seabrook and Johnsson will be out.
Despite all of this adversity the Blackhawks blanked the Los Angeles Kings 3-0 in convincing fashion on thursday night. The Kings were only able to muster 17 shots against Hawks goalie Antti Niemi. Hawks forward Dustin Byfuglien, who is a former Whl and Ahl defencemen, was back on defence and played so well he earned the 3rd star of the game. It is great news for the Hawks that Byfuglien can come in and play so well on defence.
After the game Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville talked about Byfuglien saying " I'm very happy with his game. A nice little diamond in the rough we've found."
This stretch drive in the Western Conference is sure to be a wild one. Stay tuned.