Does anyone still wish the Hawks would have played Detroit in the Conference Finals?
The Hawks can do no wrong against this Sharks team. Despite being out-shot in all three games, the Hawks have still been the superior team. Niemi is outplaying Evgeni Nabakov, Dave Bolland is outplaying Joe Thornton, and San Jose has no answer for any of the Hawks' offensive lines.
Sharks coach Todd McLellan's postgame quote says it all: "I'm not sure what else we can do."
(Video of Dave Bolland's goal, taken by my buddy from my seats in Section 328.)
The Hawks can end this series and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals Sunday afternoon. Thinking about that possibility seems truly surreal as a life-long Hawks fan.
Last night on radio postgame shows, many fans called in and said that they have never felt this confident in a Chicago team in the playoffs, besides probably the 1985 Bears and the 90's Bulls teams. At this point, it would be tough to disagree.
Even during the bad stretch in March and when they were down 2-1 to Nashville, I was hesitant to enter full panic mode. Why? Because this Blackhawks team has something that goes beyond talent. Call it magic, call it destiny, or call it something else; But whatever it is, this team has a lot of it.
Think about this for a second: In Game 5 vs. Nashville, the Hawks were down by 1 with under a minute to play, and were shorthanded after Marian Hossa took a 5 minute penalty. The Predators could have cycled the puck on the power play and run out the clock on the game, and probably the Hawks season. Instead, the hockey gods, with some help from Martin Erat, allowed Jonathan Toews to gain possession of the puck. Toews eventually set up Patrick Kane for the game-tying goal with 13 seconds left. The Hawks killed the 5-minute major in overtime and Hossa came straight out of the box to score the game winner. All things considered, the mathematical chances of that happening have to be less than one in ten thousand.
Things like that tend to happen for a team of destiny. Since that game, the Hawks are 8-2.
Moments like that breed confidence. Not just for the team, but the fans as well.
Hawks fans should be confident, but we shouldn't be taking a second of this for granted. For those of us who suffered through Andrei Zyuzin, Steve Passmore, and Tyler Arnason, this is our reward.
The atmosphere at the United Center demonstrates how thankful Hawks fans are for this team. After Game 3, Comcast Sportsnet's Sarah Kustok couldn't even have a proper interview with Patrick Kane on the bench because their voices were drowned out by crowd noise.
Moments like that are what sports are all about. Stick by a team through good and bad, and it will eventually be completely worth it.
If the Hawks beat the Sharks on Sunday, it will be a great experience for young fans, old fans, new fans and life-long fans alike.
The city has embraced this likable and exciting team, and one more win will officially turn Chicago into Hawkeytown.
So what's the point of this blog? To tell the city of Chicago one simple thing: Even if you don't know what icing is, couldn't name anyone besides Kane and Toews, and have never been to a hockey game in your life, do yourself a favor and watch Game 4 on Sunday. You owe it to yourself as a Chicagoan. This team will make you proud.
Follow me on Twitter @JTalarico328 for Hawks thoughts, news and updates