For all of you who left or who had lost interest in the team, now is your last chance to climb back aboard before playoff time: the Blackhawks are back at full force.
With the team, coaches and all, healthy for the first notable stretch of time all season, the Blackhawks finally appear to be clicking on all cylinders once again. Only a few weeks ago, the team was out of the playoff hunt, looking up at the seventh and eighth seeds with admiration.
Now, after riding an eight game winning streak over the past two weeks, the Hawks have sole possession of the fourth seed [see Standings] for entry into the NHL playoffs. The Conference leaders, the Vancouver Canucks, sit comfortably ahead of the Hawks by 13 points, but second and third place rivals, Detroit and San Jose, lead the Hawks by only six and two points respectively.
Coach Quenneville's team now has a very respectable record of 37-23-6, although they are ahead of the eighth and final playoff seed by only four points. Despite that slim lead, this has been a very quick turnaround for the team- one that many people thought it was too late in the season to look for at this point- and that is exciting news.
Things have drastically changed for the Blackhawks since mid-season, and now it seems that the team is preparing for a legitimate postseason run in defense of their 2010 Stanley Cup Championship. The most comforting of facts should be that when the team is playing to its potential, they can compete with anybody and dominate the teams they are supposed to. This is what we have witnessed in the past two weeks from the Hawks.
No matter how far the team goes, its simply comforting to know that the Hawks will have a chance to defend their title. With the way things looked for the first four months of the season, it certainly may not have worked out that way.
Since last year's now famous Championship, it appears as though many fans had walked away from the Hawks during their mediocre performance through a bulk of the 2011 season. Now is the perfect time for those fans to return; once the playoffs hit, those of us who stayed (painfully) loyal, trusting in Coach Q and the team, will know you're a bandwagon-jumper.
However, for the time being, you could mask yourself as one of the faithful and say you never really left, allowing yourself to enjoy the rest of the regular season and playfully ridicule the bandwagon fans once the playoffs start. In any case...
The Blackhawks are looking like a team that has finally clicked, even if it did take nearly four months, and that is good for everyone. With a few trades before the deadline, and the intense practices run by the Stache finally appearing to have caught up with the team, this could once again be an exciting spring for Hawks fans.