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Blackhawks Tue Nov 23 2010

Turning point or microcosm?

What a difference a day makes. After being downright embarassed (or worse, not embarassed at all) by the Calgary Flames 7-2 Friday night in a game where the entire Hawks team looked to still be frozen in the Alberta tundra, the Blackhawks took to the ice in Vancouver and laid a first-rate beating down on the Canucks 7-1.

It's really hard to imagine that the same team hit the ice in both games, given how drastically different they looked. Particularly galling in the Flames loss was the Blackhawks managing to register only 3 hits and gave up 7 goals to a team that had lost 7 of their last 8 games. The Hawks showed no hustle, won no battles and were chasing all night. Yet after what was one of their worst games of the year, Chicago went into Vancouver and dialed up last season's magic as if it were Game 8 of the post-season series, chasing Canuck goalie Roberto Luongo with 4 quick 2nd period goals, drawing 8 penalties and reclaiming residency in Vancouver's heads.

Still, despite the horrendous effort in Calgary, leaving Canada with a 2-1 record has to be a positive for the Hawks. The question is which memory the team will take as a memento from the Western Canada trek. 24 hours separating, on the one hand, a perfect microcosm showcasing the Hawks' lack of effort to start the season, paired with what has probably been the first game all year where everything has just clicked.

Now, after a mini-detour to Vegas for some R&R (how deserved depends on the effort exerted in each game, I suppose), the Blackhawks continue their circus trip with a trio of games in California. First on the docket is San Jose and old friend Antti Niemi, who's been struggling to a 2-4-1 record and a 3.91 goals against average for the Sharks.

Facing off against last season's conference final opponent should put the Hawks right back in that playoff mindset exhibited in Vancouver, but if there's anything that's been obvious this year, there's no telling how much the Blackhawks will care until the puck is dropped.

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