The Hawks are back.
I think most of us knew it before tonight, but this game solidified it. The Hawks dominated the action from the start, as Marian Hossa scored 36 seconds into the game. The Hawks never looked back, winning 5-2.
This team looks worthy of a #1 seed. With San Jose losing to Colorado two nights ago, the Hawks now completely control their own destiny. If they win the final three games ( vs. St. Louis, @ Colorado, vs. Detroit), they finish first in the West, regardless of what San Jose does.
Even more important than the #1 seed is how playoff-ready this team has looked over the past four games. Just like last March, maybe the slump wasn't the worst thing in the world. It's better to get it out of their system than have it happen once the puck drops for Game 1 next week.
With only three games remaining, it's important that the Hawks keep up this pace heading into the playoffs. They need to hold leads in the 3rd period, win puck battles, finish chances, and convert on the power play. Defensemen need to keep good positioning, forwards need to backcheck, and Antti Niemi needs to stay in the zone he's in right now. Without this combination of things, they will be vulnerable against a hungry low seed in a 7-game series.
Whether the Hawks WILL make a Cup run this spring is yet to be determined. But one thing that I've believed all season remains as true as ever: When this team is on....they can't be touched.