As the train keeps moving, the Chicago Blackhawks (10-9-2) will square off against the Calgary Flames (7-10-0) tonight at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
Coming off what may have been their most dominant performance of the season, the Blackhawks will look to build upon the recent all-around confidence. While fans and coaches have not yet warmed to the idea that perhaps the Blackhawks are getting back into a groove that is consistent with winning, the last two games have provided hope.
After an overtime victory in Chicago on Sunday over Anaheim, they quickly followed up with a win in Edmonton to open a six-game, 11-day road trip.
Wednesday’s victory is one that can speaks for itself. Needing to get off on the right foot the Blackhawks desperately needed a win over a team that had already beaten them twice on their home ice.
Not only did the Blackhawks get the well deserved win, they portrayed dominance in every aspect of the competition. While it could be attributed to preparation, it was clear that the effort was second-to-none. For the first time the Blackhawks just simply wanted it more than the other team.
Now in an attempt to dig themselves out of a season-opening hole, they must continue to will each other in order to bring their best night in and night out. The opposition will rarely have an off night against a team that naturally creates grudges by winning a Stanley Cup the previous season.
The line adjustments have begun paying off as Jonathan Toews not only net his first hat-trick in over a year, but the top line in general showed complete control when on the ice. To say that is what it took to get the win would be a joke for the fact that all lines on the ice Wednesday night showed the hunger.
Trying to understand what currently is going through Coach Joel Quenneville’s head would be a journey in itself. Who would have thought Viktor Stalberg and Toews would work as well as they did? Spreading out the more physical players on the team has not only provided a spark on every line, but also incites more physicality out of players like Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Toews.
The strategy will need to be continued should they desire to march on with the recent play they have endured. The Flames will be anything, but your typical smooth flowing team as they are typically a more physical team. Typically being led by an enforcer in Jerome Iginla, the Flames are looking for something or someone to light a fire under them as headlines have surrounded more off-ice transactions than on-ice success.
As of recent Ian White (D) and Brett Sutter (LW) were traded to Dallas in a four-player transaction. On top of that, Olli Jokinen will be out three games due to a suspension handed down by the NHL front office for a cross-check to the head of Wojtek Wolski on Thursday night.
Should the Blackhawks team of recent show up tonight, they will need to bring hustle and an understanding that a slumping team is just as dangerous as one on a hot-streak. If any one should be able to have this kind of understanding it would be themselves. A lack of commitment would prove costly and an assumption of ease would be detrimental.