In the span of 24 hours, the Blackhawks turned in one their worst, and then one of their best performances of the season.
Pardon the simple title, but we all deserve to celebrate this one.
Tonight in Minnesota, the Blackhawks showed up and played the up-tempo style they have played most of the season, and dominated the Wild 4-0. A combination of great offensive work from the 4th line and clutch goaltending by Antti Niemi helped the Blackhawks get back in the win column.
Tomas Kopecky scored twice, Ben Eager lit the lamp, and Toews scored off a beautiful feed from Marian Hossa.
The Hawks played excellent team defense, thanks at least partially to Joel Quenneville making the correct decision of splitting up the horrendous Brent Sopel/Duncan Keith pairing. Keith and Byfuglien paired up and looked shaky at times, but the shutout indicates they were good enough.
While 4-0 is enough of a beating, it could have been an even larger margin of victory as the Hawks hit the crossbar and post on multiple occasions.
The most important sequence of the game, hands down, was the 2-man advantage that Minnesota had for a minute and a half late in the 2nd period. Trailing 2-0, they had an opportunity to get right back in the game, but Antti Niemi shut the door. He made three big saves, moving quickly post to post and keeping Minnesota off the scoreboard.
Judging by facebook/twitter feeds, the win produced a collective sigh of relief among Blackhawks fans.
Should we really be that surprised by this performance? It was bound to happen, right? Injuries aside, this is the same group that has dominated opponents most of the season. The fanbase was in a panic, but the team never seemed to be, and that's all that matters.
Before we once again begin proclaiming that the Hawks are favorites in the West, let's see them play another strong game on Friday @ New Jersey. The Hawks played a great game a week ago to beat Phoenix, and then fell apart again and lost three straight. Consistency is what matters heading into the playoffs.
One interesting statistic to close with: The 2008-2009 Hawks record in March was the exact same as it was this March: 6-7-2. The 08-09 Hawks proceeded to go 6-0-1 in April, and then won two playoff rounds. Let's all step away from the ledge.