It might be an overreaction to say that one extended road trip can make or break an entire NHL season, but the success of the Blackhawks on their annual circus trip can certainly be a spring board to a great season.
Consider their performance the last two seasons.
In 2008-2009 the Blackhawks finished the circus trip with a 3-2-1 record and last season the team had an outstanding trip, finishing up 4-1-1 on their west coast swing.
Being able to pick up seven points and nine points out of a possible 12 points is not too shabby.
But the real boost is what happens after the road trip is in the rearview mirror.
Two years ago the Blackhawks returned home from the circus trip and went on to post a 10-1-1 record in the month of December. Running off a streak like that provides an opportunity to really put some distance between yourself and the competition. The Blackhawks carried that run to the end of the season and made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
Last season the Blackhawks rattled off a 15-4-0 mark after their circus trip and the end result then was a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals with a summer of fun enjoying their Stanley Cup Championship.
What does this year hold?
Only being one game into the trip it is hard to say, but considering that the opening game of the trip was a dominating victory over the Edmonton Oilers, a team that beat them twice in Chicago, signs are promising.
On Friday night the Blackhawks will face the Calgary Flames, who they beat all four times they played last season. Starting the trip 2-0-0 would be a huge boost to a team that has struggled with their consistency. Calgary is 3-7-0 in their last 10 games and has had their own share of struggles.
Despite the recent struggles and overall record of the Flames, the Blackhawks will need to come out and control the game like they did at Rexall Place.
The real benefit for the Blackhawks.
Whatever the circus trip holds for the Blackhawks is yet to be determined, but one thing that will certainly help this team is the opportunity to be together on the road and establish a closer bond in a locker room that features a number of new faces.
It is a bit cliche to mention the team chemistry – as every sports franchise looks to that a little too often – but having fun as a team, both on and off the ice, over the next week plus might be just what this team needs to overcome their inconsistent play over the past few weeks.
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