There seemed to be a growing mindset since the Chicago Blackhawks clinched the Western Division and home ice, that games didn’t matter. Writers, fans, players and maybe even coaches appeared to wallow in that growing entiment. Dangerous waters folks. In the last 10 games, Chicago has posted a 3-3-4 record. Certainly not Stanley Cup worthy.
Let’s talk a little about Saturday afternoon’s contest. Nice start. A little over six minutes in Jonathan Toews (21) puts a wrap-around past Jonathan Quick and the Hawks lead 1-0. That score stood until the four minute mark of the third when the Los Angeles Kings tied the score. Nine minutes later Artemi Panarin (31) pushed the lead back to one with his blast from the left wing. In many respects, Chicago was gliding. Even with the slim margin Chicago was in control. Then the back breaker. With less than a minute left, Dustin Brown snuck down the slot and tied the score at 2. The outcome. Overtime. And it took only took 27 seconds to decide as the Kings put the winner on the board.
So now what? Well we know who the Hawks play in the first round. The Nashville Predators. The date and time are still up in the air at this writing. I will update as soon as that information becomes available. The other thing. Put your playoff face on. This will or maybe I should say, could, be a long, long road. Are the Hawks capable of a deep run? No doubt. Is there anyone head and shoulders above them? Maybe only Washington. But it all comes down to the players and coaches. Doesn’t it?
“When our team plays for keeps, that’s what it’s all about. We have some young guys”, said Coach Joel Quenneville. “We’re looking forward to their contributions as well. But it’s a long season to put yourself in this position and this year it’s so wide open. It should make for a great playoff. Let’s be ready to meet the challenge.”
Question is. Can you flip the switch and make it work? Captain Johnny offers this, “I think that energy, that ambition, that motivation is back. We have that feeling that every single moment, every single game matters. It’s a lot of fun to play this time of year. That’s why we work all year to get to this point. As we’ve said in the past, the real season begins. Everyone wants to get back to playoff hockey.”
The past is the past. Turn the page. There is only one thing that matters right now. The Nashville Predators.
Notes: Former Blackhawk Bryan Bickell retired yesterday. It was nice to see the outpouring of affection and compassion for Bic. He could have handled his struggles, demotion, trade and health issues in a much different way. Most of us might very well have. But he took it on. Good fortune to you number 29…..Chicago’s 109 points were the second most in franchise history (best in 2009-10 with 112). Coach Q was behind the bench for his 700th Chicago game yesterday.
Thanks for checking in,