The Hawks are off to Cal-Gary tonight and then on to Edmonton on Saturday to finish up the Canada leg of this trip. Just a week ago, the Hawks beat the Flames at the UC 4-1 and then after a day off took care of the Oilers 6-3. With the streak of wins now at four, the danger is always to get over confident and stop doing the hard work that has turned things around after two shitty games lost to Vancouver and St. Louis. Some of what I think lead to those losses has been addressed by Q making some changes to his special teams. More then anything though, his best players on paper have been his best players on the ice. They've still had some pretty bad periods, but overall, things have been getting more consistent. Neither of the next two games are gimmies, but with how the Hawks are playing right now, the most likely cause for a failure will be lack of effort.
Has some magic catalyst occurred and will we see the Hawks play this way the rest of the year? I have my doubts. I love the hard forecheck and I love seeing guys to the net. But we've seen that before and it didn't always last. Since Q juggled the lines a bit, I think the entire team has looked better balanced and though I won't call this a system, I believe the hard work the forwards have put in on backchecking and forechecking has allowed the D to be more aggressive on the offensive side of things. Some of it I think has to do with guys continuing to get more comfortable with the team. But the majority of it IMO has to do with being willing to work hard and grind when that's what another team is bringing. This team is never going to be a grind team no matter how many "sandpaper" guys they go out and get. Regardless, when the top six work hard and do simple things in each zone, they will beat a lot teams no matter what the style.
Since we'll have wraps to comment on for the next couple of days, I won't say too much else. Looking at the standings, it's clear the Flames are near a free fall state and the Oil, after an initial explosion, is coming back to earth. Both teams could beat the Hawks and send all of us once again back on the ledge of despair, but right now I'm feeling optimistic. Two good efforts should yield two wins.