To watch the Chicago Blackhawks lose two games in a row felt like watching them circle the metaphorical drain. Two losses for a Hawks fan has proven to be unbearable.
But Thursday night’s 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild was enough to make Chicago fans believe once again. The only word that seems fitting to describe the effort put forth by the Blackhawks is to say it was explosive.
The past few contests the Hawks have engaged in seemed to be lacking in one area or another. It seemed like they were always in control of the game, leading in shots on goal, or even just out skating the competition. So what is the key factor that Chicago brought with them Thursday night for a victory? A team effort. A team effort that was shared evenly by the Hawks roster. Coach Joel Quenneville commented: “We played with a purpose and got some contributions across the board. We might have had the most consistent game we’ve had.”
While the dazzling results of the game seem to speak for themselves, Quenneville is right.
There have been many critics of the Blackhawks recently. Many people have criticized the team as a whole or even individual players. This is to be expected; I mean, the team did set a record for most consecutive wins in the NHL last season, not to mention the tiny matter of Lord Stanley.
A full team effort is essential for a team to go all the way, and the thing that impresses me about the Hawks is the wide spread recognition the entire team gets. Chicago doesn’t have just one front man who saves the day all the time. It is just apparent when watching the Blackhawks they are a strong team that is only getting stronger with each new day.
Patrick Sharp, who put up the first goal of the game late in the first period, told the Chicago Tribune:
“ That was one of our best 60-minute efforts of the season to this point. A lot of positive things you can take out of this game. Above all, we played good team defense. Five guys in the picture all the time and that’s the way we have to play to be successful.”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it here now that aside from their speed, the Blackhawks’ ability to work well as a team is one of their defining strengths. Working in new players and losing Michael Kostka and Michal Handzus to injuries have played on how the team’s strength can also be a weakness. But after a game like Thursday’s, it’s not likely the Hawks will be looking back any time soon.