Blackhawks booming: Three reasons Chicago is coming on strong at right time

It’s no surprise the Chicago Blackhawks have crept their way near the top of the NHL standings.

How they have done it, though, has the rest of the league on alert.

Having won seven straight and 12 of their last 13 prior to a four-day break this week, the Blackhawks are setting up for a late run at the Central Division title, not to mention a deep journey into the postseason.

Even with the Minnesota Wild edging the San Jose Sharks Sunday night to temporarily reclaim division supremacy, Chicago could not have begun its brief break any better.

Here’s why:

1. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are doing what they need to do -- and more

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Patrick Kane has 21 points in the Blackhawks’ last 13 games, a 12-1 stretch for Chicago. USATSI

It’s one thing for Kane and Toews to perform up to par as the big-name contributors they are. It’s another thing to see them absolutely crush it on ice, almost single-handedly powering Chicago’s offensive outpouring since February.

In the Blackhawks’ 12-1 stretch, Kane has racked up 21 points, including 14 goals, catapulting to No. 2 in the NHL in points. Toews, meanwhile, has been just as dominant with 20 points of his own. According to Christopher Kamka of CSN Chicago, the Blackhawks are 72-6-4, including playoffs, when both Kane and Toews score a goal in the same game.

2. Corey Crawford is holding up in net, even if just barely

With Scott Darling sidelined for an estimated three weeks, Crawford will have his hands full, especially coming off an illness. But the veteran goalie has done his part protecting the net. It has not always been pretty, but it’s worked.

Chicago entered the week in a three-way tie for sixth place in goals allowed, and while Crawford has surrendered three goals in six separate contests since Feb. 2, he’s also posted an 8-1 record. He’s also turned in some gems, like when he halted all but one of the New York Islanders’ shots in a big March 3 victory for the Blackhawks.

3. The Blackhawks have exemplified resilience

This one will have to play out more after Chicago’s break, when the Blackhawks will play 17 games over the course of the last 31 days of the regular season. But if the team’s hot streak is any indication, Kane and Co. have shown they will not back down in the face of adversity.

Cliche? Maybe. And what else would we expect from this perennial contender? But the Blackhawks’ recent encounter with illnesses and injuries did not keep them from entering their break neck and neck with the Wild, and for a team with power-play and penalty-kill percentages in the bottom half of the league, they’ve had no trouble stringing together a dominant season.

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