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Blackhawks Mon Nov 10 2008

Finally!

After 12 games and countless chances, a bounce finally went the right way for Blackhawks captain Jonathon Toews, who netted his first goal of the season last night in the Hawks 6-1 win over the Calgary Flames. Toews got the puck in the slot in the opening minutes of the third period and fired a wrist shot that Flames goalie Mikka Kiprusoff got a piece of, but trickled through his legs and across the goal line. The goal gave the Hawks a 4-1 lead and opened the gates to two more quick goals for Chicago. Toews has been consistently one of the best players on the ice, but the red-lamp drought had to be a bit of a distraction for the 20-year-old.

With Toews and Patrick Kane leading the way, the Hawks have won their last 4 games, and their 7-3-3 record is their best start since 2001-02, the last season the team made the postseason. The last two games has seen the team clicking on all cylinders, posting identical 6-goal games with help from all four lines, while the defense has been lockdown in limiting quality shots on goalies Nicolai Khabibulin and Cristobal Huet.

More impressive has been the Hawks special-teams play, which in past seasons has been their downfall. A resurgent, responsive powerplay unit has seen the Hawks move from the basement to fourth in the league, connecting 22% of the time with the man advantage.
The penalty kill has allowed only 6 goals in 64 opportunities, a 90.6% clip good for 2nd in the league, including just 1 goal in the last 27 times shorthanded. Not only have they kept the puck out of the net on the penalty kill, but the Hawks held the Avalanche and Flames to only 14 total shots in 12 powerplay chances.

Despite a 5-day layoff, the Blackhawks shook off the rust and played a dominant game Sunday night at the United Center, where the team has posted a 6-0-2 record. With 3 more home games this week, beginning Wednesday against Boston, the Hawks are looking to keep momentum and morale moving forward before the annual circus trip begins next week.

 
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