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Monday, October 26

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Blackhawks Mon Mar 11 2013

Blackhawks Fall To Oilers But Not Without A Fight

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Since we last talked earlier last week, the Blackhawks started a new streak: going winless in their last two games. Not as sexy as their last streak, but a streak nonetheless. Let's hope this one doesn't garner as much attention.

The loss against Colorado was bound to happen. An ugly 6 to 2 beat down that would have made a red-headed stepchild jealous. They were playing their sixth game in nine nights, and made me tired watching them.

Last night's game against the Edmonton Oilers started the same way (slow, sluggish, no fight), and before you could ask "is there a new 'Walking Dead' episode on tonight?" the Hawks were down 4 to 0.

Four - zip. Just like that. No defense, no fight, and, apparently, Ray Emery had holes in his pads. Heck, Sam Gagner almost had a hat trick in the first 20 minutes of the game.

Then, just when the embarrassment couldn't get any worse, the Hawks got it together. I'm not sure what coach Quenneville told his team at intermission, but whatever it was seemed to wake up the legs of captain Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane. At least it seemed to start with that core.

Kane got the party started with a goal 5 minutes, 36 seconds into the second period, which led to a barrage of goals from the Hawks. You could see it in Toews's eyes, and in the way he was skating in the second, that he wasn't going to let his team go out like this. Not this way.

The Hawks eventually lost the game 6 to 5, but showed true heart and character by way of scratching and clawing back in what otherwise should have been a massacre. Even the crowd at the United Center froze during the first period after being stunned by the score, but showed their appreciation as this team refused to go down.

It might sound crazy to say this, but other than the defensive effort throughout (Brent Seabrook's passing), I thought this was a game on which the Hawks could hang their hat. Giving up six goals to the lowly Oilers was tough to swallow, but the true talent of this team; the true character and grit, showed itself in the second and third periods by way of finding the net.

The heart and character came more so in the form of offense, but maybe that's what's needed in order to motivate the penalty kill. Dumb penalties will happen, but killing the clock by smart stick handling and shot blocking is what counters anything Jamal Mayers might do.

If not for a few lazy goals that got through Emery, and his eventual replacement Corey Crawford, we'd have exhaled with nervous laughter on how the Hawks escaped with a crazy win, much like what happened earlier in the year against the San Jose Sharks. We forgot that this team can score at will, even with Patrick Sharp sidelined for the next three-plus weeks.

Sure, some bounces may not have gone the Hawks' way, and, yes, they're very, very tired. However, the heart is there for this team and it beats loudly, even if it doesn't get started until the second period.

Up next is a two-week road trip that starts Thursday in Columbus. That means a lot of rest before playing the worst team in the league. The trip will end in Anaheim against the second-best team in the West: the Ducks.

In order to get back on track and have a successful trip, their legs will need to be fresh, but ultimately, it'll be their heart that will keep them on track for May and June.

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