It was a two-team jostle in the Central Division while fans of both the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings wondered when the Nashville Predators were going to thrust in the thick of things.
However, the St. Louis Blues took a somewhat expected approach to showing their legitimacy. Some just didn’t think they’d ever tie for first, and with Ken Hitchcock behind the bench.
They’ve been banged up and hindered with injuries, but made do with it.
The Chicago Blackhawks, on the other hand, are a team that can’t cope too well with injuries.
Patrick Sharp’s upper body injury, which will keep him out for three to four weeks, minimum, is one of the last things the Blackhawks need right now.
Especially in a four-game slump to start the year.
So, what now?
Well, Sharp’s brilliance in the first half of the season rallied 20 goals and 20 assists in 42 games. Production has to come from somewhere. And while Jonathan Toews wears the ‘C,’ the sense of leadership reverberates from the Blackhawks roster when Patrick Sharp is on there.
Ben Smith, 23, will get another shot at things with the Blackhawks as he’s called from the Rockford Ice Hogs to help mend the wounds.
A winger with size, Smith, alike Sharp, has hovered around the point-per-game status. He’s at 10 goals and 8 assists in 18 games. But, this year with the Blackhawks, he’s found the back of the net just once without any helpers in seven games, while averaging just under 11 minutes on the back lines.
While Daniel Carcillo isn’t injured or suspended and Sharp facing some serous time off, it’ll be curious to see what else can go wrong for the Blackhawks over the hump of the season as the trade deadline approaches.