Monday, January 5, 2009

Disappointing Losses to Wings won't bring Hawks Down

It was a great opportunity for the up and coming Blackhawks organization. After a nine game winning streak, the Hawks were within four points of the mighty Red Wings and had a chance to earn a tie atop the division with a sweep. In the end, it was the Wings who did the sweeping winning 4-0 in Detroit and taking the Winter Classic 6-4.

After the Wings finished their run of five straight goals Thursday afternoon to take a 6-3 lead, it was clear the Hawks wouldn't be gaining any points in the standings. However, the third and fourth losses of the season to Detroit shouldn't derail the progress in Chicago. There are great players here, evidenced by the three starters on the all-star roster, and while the major hurdle of figuring out their Central Division rival, the Blackhawks are still one of the premier teams in the league this year.

They showed it Sunday night with a win over the Flames. The Hawks ended a five game winning streak for Calgary, and hey, they've won 10 straight over teams not named Detroit. Patrick Kane missed the game with a high ankle sprain, but rookie Kris Versteeg picked up the slack by continuing his stellar play with a goal, while Sharp, Havlat and Ladd all had a goal and an assist.

Up next is a road trip including Phoenix, Colorado, and Nashville. The two game series with Detroit will prove to be an abberration. It actually seemed as though it existed outside the regular season, despite the implications in the standings. Joel Quenneville seems to have the Hawks focused on the road ahead, and it's a good thing because this is about the spot the Hawks veered into the ditch last season.

Something, likely all the winning, seems different about this year though, and it seems crazy to think the Hawks will miss the playoffs again. Nevertheless, these next two months will be very important to secure a spot in and prepare for the postseason.

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