MORRISSEY: Blackhawks are a team in control of their own destiny
BY RICK MORRISSEY email@example.com March 6, 2013 11:14PM
Hawks winger Andrew Shaw celebrates his goal giving the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead in the first period of the Chicago Blackhawks-Colorado Avalanche NHL game Wednesday March 6, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: April 8, 2013 7:56AM
The Blackhawks are a force of nature, which is why there are rescue dogs pawing at snow looking for the Avalanche, a team that had big ideas for the longest time Wednesday night.
This time it was a wild, messy 3-2 victory, and the victim was Colorado, but, really, it could have been anybody, mostly because it has been everybody so far.
The Hawks are going to lose a game in regulation this season. I feel confident saying that. I think.
I mean, I suppose a loss could happen. In theory.
The number of consecutive games with at least a point this season is at 24. The winning streak is at 11. The overall record is 21-0-3.
This is hockey insanity. You do realize that, don’t you? And it’s crazy fun.
The Hawks did not play well for stretches Wednesday night. Let’s be clear about that. The streak was in danger of dying of sluggishness at the United Center, with sloppiness and fatigue as contributing factors. But Jonathan Toews, the captain, scored a short-handed goal on an early third-period rush to tie the game at 2.
And then Daniel Carcillo scored the game winner with 49.3 seconds left off a scramble at the net, in keeping with the seasonlong theme of everybody taking a turn in the spotlight. Carcillo, the guy with no goals in eight previous games this season?
“You can’t rely on two, three, four guys every night to score,’’ Carcillo said. “Your back end has to score, and your goalies have to play great. Guys have to step up. That’s how you win a lot of games.’’
A TV guy wondered out loud whether the Hawks were feeling the pressure of their streak. Pressure? Dude, this is all fun and games. You can see it in the way they play. They get down a goal, as they did against Colorado, and they don’t care. They aren’t playing with desperation.
They’re playing with the certainty that they’re going to win, even when they’re not playing particularly well.
“A lot of people might think that we’re pulling that game out of you-know-where, but really we’re working for it,’’ Toews said. “There’s no special equation, there’s no magic going on. It’s just work ethic.’’
The Hawks have what a lot of teams don’t have in early March: pure adrenaline, brought on by a streak that is burying opponents. If it’s this much fun to watch, imagine how much fun it is to be playing for the Hawks.
So pressure? We all should be so lucky.
And speaking of luck, hockey is the sport with more of it in its DNA than the most others. The puck does indeed bounce strange ways. It hits off skates and pads and goalposts. And that’s just it: What’s luck got to do with the Hawks’ streak? Not a whole lot.
They have four good to excellent lines. What that means is constant pressure, the good kind. It means they can do what other teams say they want to do but can’t. My gosh, even Patrick Kane is checking. The Hawks were without Marian Hossa (upper body) on Wednesday, and the streak went on anyway.
It’s not too early to compare this team to the one that won the Stanley Cup in 2010. Both teams got major contributions from non-stars. That’s how you win championships.
The big discussion has been whether the Hawks’ streak is better than the one going on in the NBA — no, not the consecutive days of Derrick Rose updates with no actual news. The 16-game winning streak by the Heat. LeBron James is killing opponents. And the Blackhawks are winning like crazy in a condensed season that puts a premium on depth and conditioning.
I know their point streak gets demerits in some corners because overtime losses are worth a point in the NHL. But the demands of the lockout-shortened schedule more than makes up for that.
Before the game, coach Joel Quenneville answered my question before I could finish asking it.
Are you having trouble finding things to …
“Complain about?’’ he said.
Yes, exactly. I think Quenneville is down to complaining about the quality of the maraschino cherries in his drinks.
“We don’t want to invite negative things or something we’d have to dwell on,’’ he said. “But over the course of a season, I’m sure we’ll be getting some challenges that we’ll be dealing with.’’