Although the Hawks lost in overtime to the dreaded Red Wings today, the team (and fans alike), can concentrate on what we've all truly been waiting for since early last summer. The Hawks sealed up the second seed in the NHL's Western Conference today, finishing one point behind top-seeded San Jose.
It may have been a disappointing loss, but what a season it has been.
This was a record-breaking season for the Hawks, who set franchise records for both road wins and total points this year, but now playoff hockey approaches. Its good to have seen "new" goaltender Antti Niemi finding his feet towards the end of the season, and the team as a whole seems to have found its step winning 6 of 7 games heading into the playoffs.
The Hawks finished the season 52-22-8, with 112 points (3rd in the NHL) and scored 271 goals (3rd in the NHL) while surrendering 209 (5th in the NHL). Patrick Kane lead the team in goals (30) and assists (58), giving him a team-leading 88 points. Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Sharp were all close behind with 69, 68, and 66 points respectively.
San Jose clinched the top spot in the conference despite a losing record against the Hawks this year, and will be facing the Colorado Avalanche in the first round. The Hawks now look on to the Nashville Predators,
The Predators, lead in points by Patric Hornqvist and Steve Sullivan, finished with a record of 47-29-6. The Blackhawks were 3-2 against Nashville this year, and this should be a favorably first round matchup for our mighty Hawks.
Hopefully the play from both the fourth line and Antti Niemi will prove to be as effective as they have been lately, but if the defense is as stellar as it has shown in spurts this season, the Hawks may be able to ride squarely on the shoulders of their superstars.
Time will tell exactly how good this team is, but the regular season speaks volumes about the depth and ability of this team. Friday the playoffs will begin, but until then, its so far and oh-so-good for the Blackhawks.