The streaky trend appears to be continuing for the Blackhawks. After that long losing streak, a brief winning streak, and another losing streak, the Hawks have won their last two heading into a tilt with the Detroit Red Wings later this weekend.
Still without their captain, Jonathan Toews, and armed with five, repeat, five, rookies in the lineup, the Blackhawks traveled north for a meeting with the sizzling Ottawa Senators. And they proceeded to put together one of their better overall performances of the season.
The final score of the game was 2-1, but that doesn’t indicate just how well the Blackhawks played in this one.
While the Sens did score first, it came on a very fluky play. Milan Michalek found a bouncing puck from Jason Spezza and, with Brent Seabrook screening him, Ray Emery never stood a chance. But Razor was very solid, again, for the rest of the night, stopping the other 25 of the 26 shots he faced for the night.
The Hawks went on to tie the game and take the lead in the second period. Bryan Bickell, who was impressive yet again, scored on a delayed penalty to even things up. Marian Hossa put in a wraparound goal to give the Hawks the lead permanently.
It doesn’t completely show up in the stat sheet, as they were outhit and beat in the faceoff circle, but the Hawks outshot the Sens 39-26 and outplayed them for the majority of the game. The pace was good and passes were connecting in a way that we haven’t seen in a while from this team.
The top line, which featured Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa, was dynamite for the second consecutive game. Especially Kane, who has looked very bit the All Star he was selected as earlier this season in the past couple of contests. Though he had issues finishing, even Andrew Brunette had a decent night.
Joel Quenneville referred to the win as the team’s “biggest” win of the season. With the Hawks once again fighting for their playoff lives, every win will likely come with that label for the rest of the season.
But nonetheless, it’s a big win for the Hawks, for several reasons. It was big for the stars in the lineup, it was big for Ray Emery, and they were able to continue to get these rookies some nice minutes. However, the biggest thing it does for the Hawks is give them confidence moving forwards.
Their inconsistency in this second half has stemmed from a lack of confidence and a lack of killer instinct, among plenty of other things. But they showed that they can play at a high level and a pull out a close game against a hot team, and on the road no less.
Is it the “biggest” win of the season? If “biggest” means “most impressive”, then no. We’ve seen the team put together some pretty impressive wins this season. But at this point in the season, with the Hawks struggling to find their game and their confidence, it’s understandable where Coach Q could refer to it as the biggest. Hopefully the Hawks are able to use that confidence on the road again against Detroit on Sunday.