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After months of change, a break is ahead for the Blackhawks

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 20: Chicago Blackhawks center Dylan Strome (17) celebrates his goal with Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) during a game between the Washington Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks on January 20, 2019, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

CHICAGO – Times like these aren’t something that Blackhawks fans have been used to over the past decade. Even last season, there was still hope through most of the first half that the team would turn it around and make the playoffs.

This year, that hope is looking slimmer as the games tick down, even with some improvement here and there from a group that’s taken on a new look in the first half with the new coach.

Sure Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are enjoying strong seasons as they have in the past, but Corey Crawford remains out with another concussion, the goalies have changed, and Jeremy Colliton has been installing a new system during most of the year.

For these reasons, the Blackhawks sit at the bottom of the Western Conference by themselves as they approach the All-Star break, which begins after Tuesday’s nights game with the Islanders at 7:30 PM on WGN-TV. Right now they are nine points out of the last Wild Card spot with seven teams ahead of them to claim it with 31 games remaining.

At this point, talking about that is getting ahead of yourself. Even for Toews, who believes in thinking big while trying to pick up small wins along the way.

“I look at the big pictures and set some high expectations, some high goals for yourself,” said the captain. “We’re working hard, we’re building, and we’re getting better as a team every day and that’s the big thing.”

The rest of the team will have a break coming up after this except for Patrick Kane, who will head to San Jose for All-Star Weekend this Friday at the SAP Center. He wants as much as anyone to finish a first half full of change strong on Tuesday night against a New York team that beat the Blackhawks 3-2 on January 3rd.

“We’ve got a lot of time off, so let’s leave it all out there on the ice tonight,” said Kane of Tuesday’s game before the break. “We’re coming off a big win against a good team, so we’ll try to use that as momentum coming into this game – first place in their division. So if we can get a win, finish strong, feel good about ourselves, we can go into the break feeling good, at least having some momentum for the last 31 games coming out of it.”

Any little bit helps at this point.

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