The Blackhawks were conscious heading into the season they could fall victim to a Stanley Cup hangover, which has in the past come in the form of a rough start to the season for the defending Cup champs. They experienced some of that the season after winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, and a short summer this time around also had the potential to trigger a poor beginning.
But after picking up points in seven of their first eight games and building a 5-1-2 record, the Blackhawks feel as if they avoided that hangover and put themselves in a respectable position.
“We’re 5-1-2; that’s a good record to start,” Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said after practice on Monday. “You got to be happy with that, getting points seven out of eight games and the other game should have had a point in the last 30 seconds.
“The good thing is a lot of us feel we can be better in here, not only team-wise, but personally, too. Hopefully, that’s a good sign of things to come.”
As much as the Stanley Cup hangover was talked about in the preseason, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said he never worried about it.
“I think that going into the season you had a feeling that we were going to be fine; that wasn’t going to be an issue or even part of the thought process,” Quenneville said. “I know we’ve had a nice schedule here at home. We might have had a lot tougher one the last time as far time in between. I think we’ve gotten off to a relatively good start, and I just think the guys prepared themselves the right way and the focus has been in the right areas, and that’s right on the ice.”
How the Blackhawks began the 2010-11 season after winning the Stanley Cup the season before actually wasn’t that different -- as far as their record -- from this season. They were 5-2-1 after eight games in 2010 and came crashing down right after that. They went 3-7-0 over their next 10 games.
It’s not completely fair to compare the teams, though. The 2010-11 team experienced a lot of turnover from the season before, and this season’s team returned nearly everyone from their 2013 Stanley Cup-winning squad.
Either way, the Blackhawks are confident in where they are as a team and they like where they’re heading. They felt their 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday was their best effort of the season.
“I think we can play better, of course,” Blackhawks forward Michal Handzus said. “We haven’t played our best yet. We’re getting there. I think the last game was our best game, a complete 60 minutes. Before that, we had a great 20 minutes and just let it go. It’s just building the team again, building how we need to play. I think we’re getting there.
“I think one guy described it the best before the season. Let’s get that banner ceremony, get it over with and just start the new season. It was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun stuff. The Cup was around a lot. It’s a new season. You want to experience it again. You had that taste. You want to experience it again. You don’t live in the past.”