Sunday, April 11, 2010
Lone disappointment in great Hawks season
By Jesse Rogers
A point shy.
That’s the one and only disappointment in an otherwise wonderful regular season for the Chicago Blackhawks.
After their 3-2 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings that secured the No. 2 seed in the conference, emotions were mixed in the dressing room. Great season. Tough finish.
The Hawks' Patrick Kane tries to control the puck as the Red Wings' Henrik Zetterberg applies defensive pressure on Sunday at the United Center.
"It is a little disappointing," winger Marian Hossa said. "We fell one point short. We could have won the West, but on the other hand, it’s a new beginning. I felt like we had a good season."
That’s an understatement. How about a franchise record 52 wins, including a record 23 on the road and 112 points overall. San Jose had 113.
"We feel satisfied about our regular season," Patrick Sharp said. "I think we represented ourselves well and now it's time to move on and face a tough opponent in the playoffs."
That opponent is the Nashville Predators, a team the Hawks haven’t seen since just after Christmas. The Hawks won the season series 4-2.
The Hawks turned their game around before the playoffs arrived. March had some struggles, but April saw success. Plenty of it. In an eerie coincidence, they duplicated their finish of a year ago. After a 6-7-2 March, they went 6-0-1. Just like last season.
"We were thinking the exact same thing when we were going through that tough stretch, not too long ago," Jonathan Toews said. "We went through the exact same thing last year and finished really strong. For us to finish this way is huge, but again, a disappointing loss tonight, in our own building."
That it was, but it only solidified the notion that Detroit has returned to form as an elite team. It really didn’t take anything away from the Hawks.
"Obviously, we would have liked to be sitting on top of the West, but the good news is, we are playing this week," John Madden said. "Regular season is over. We have to get ready."
Hossa has been to two straight Stanley Cup Finals but lost both of them. He’s as hungry as ever and was asked if the Hawks were ready.
"Why not?" Hossa said. "They had a year experience ... I think they’ve been through the battles last year, and they learned a lot. This is going to be another challenge."
Joel Quenneville feels they're ready, too. The one area he wanted to improve before the postseason was the power play. He got it: a goal in each of the past two games and more chances with the man advantage then they had in a week. Now they’re ready.
"We turn the page, obviously," Quenneville said. "We waited a long time to get these playoffs going. We had a good season, let’s get excited about the second season."
Let us, indeed.
Patrick Kane’s assist on Sunday was his 88th point of the season. That’s the most for a Blackhawk since Jeremy Roenick in 1993-1994.
Colin Fraser scored his fifth goal in his last four games after having just two in the previous 66.
As of late Sunday afternoon, the NHL had not released the playoff schedule. Games are set to begin Wednesday or Thursday. The Harlem Globetrotters have a show at the United Center on Thursday.
Troy Brouwermissed his fourth straight game attending to a family illness. Quenneville said he would rejoin the team Monday for practice.
Quenneville could not declare if and when defenseman Kim Johnssonwould be available. Johnsson has been out since March 13.