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Blackhawks Fri Apr 04 2008

A Surprising Season

With Nashville's victory over St. Louis last night, the Blackhawks playoff hopes were officially dashed. The Hawks welcome the Predators for their home finale tonight in what would have been a monumental battle for the final seed, winner take all, if the Blues held on for the win last night.

Despite the team missing the postseason for the fifth straight year, the season has been astounding to see, both on and off the ice. With two games left, the Hawks (currently 39-33-8) are guaranteed to finish with a winning record for just the second time in the past 10 years, and their current 86 points is already a marked improvement over last season's 71. Patrick Kane is leading all rookies in scoring with 69 points, and his closest competition for the Calder Trophy (given to the rookie of the year) is his teammate Jonathon Toews. The duo has led the resurgence on the ice, with a number of promising youngsters posting career years this season.

More importantly, with the team playing meaningful games this late in the season, the United Center has been rocking with the return of a long-dormant fanbase.The team's 11 sellouts are more than the last five years combined, and tonight's home finale will be standing-room only and the 12th capacity crowd at the UC this season. Overall, the Hawks are averaging nearly 4,000 more fans a game this season, as fans starved for a winner have flocked to the United Center. The buzz is back on Madison and looks to only keep building next season as GM Dale Tallon enters a critical offseason for the franchise. This year's success was a surprise to many, but the expectations will be raised for the Blackhawks next year.

I'll post a more in-depth wrap up of the highs and lows of this historical season later on, but for now, I appreciate having the Hawks back to being relevant.

 
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