We haven't had a chance to talk too much hockey yet here this season, but for those who have not noticed, the Blackhawks are off to a fine 7-2-2 start.
Sixteen points in 11 games is nothing to sneeze at, especially when you consider the Hawks' power play has been dreadful in the early going. Chicago is just 4-for-45 with the man advantage -- that's an 8.9 percent clip that ranks second worst in the NHL.
The Blackhawks have scored three short-handed goals this season, only one fewer than they've scored with the power play. I guess that tells us the penalty kill (91.7 percent, third in the NHL) has been as good as the power play has been bad.
But here's the real key to the Blackhawks' early-season success -- they've been kicking some ass in the third period.
It's a refreshing change from last season, when the Hawks gave up 89 third-period goals in 82 games. That figure was fourth worst in the NHL. The Hawks were outscored 89-74 in third periods last season.
So far this year, the Hawks have outscored the opposition 15-6 in the final 20 minutes. No team in the league has given up fewer goals in the third period than the Hawks.
Dominance late in games has allowed the Hawks to pick up several points over the last two weeks. Just check the log of some of their recent games:
Oct. 18 at Phoenix: The Hawks led 3-2 after two periods before scoring two goals late to put away a 5-2 victory.
Oct. 20 at Colorado: The Hawks netted two third-period goals to break a 1-1 tie and prevail 3-1.
Oct. 22 vs. Colorado: The Hawks rallied from a 3-2 deficit to take a short-lived 4-3 lead. They ended up losing 5-4 in a shootout, but salvaged a point with a strong third period.
Oct. 25 vs. Anaheim: The Hawks trailed 2-1 after two periods. They scored to force overtime and won 3-2 in a shootout.
Oct. 29 vs. Columbus: The game was tied 2-2 after two periods. The Hawks exploded in the third to win 5-2.
Oct. 31 vs. Nashville: The Hawks rallied from a 3-2 deficit to take a 4-3 lead. They couldn't hold it, but they ended up winning 5-4 in overtime.
Three times in 10 days the Hawks came from behind to get at least one point after trailing after 40 minutes. On two of those three occasions, they won the game.
In two other instances, they won games that were tied after two periods.
This is what happens when you can roll four lines and not miss a beat. The Blackhawks' third line of Dave Bolland, Michael Frolik and Bryan Bickell has combined for 10 goals through the first 11 games. When you've got a third line that dents the net on an almost nightly basis, you've got excellent roster depth.
The Hawks appear to be wearing teams down, and they are at their sharpest late in games. If they ever get that power play going, this could be a extraordinary season on Madison Street.