Blackhawks News

Second City onto the Second Season — and it’s about time.

By Jeffrey Bartl
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We’ve waited 82 games. Some elated us, others brought us to the brink of a heart attack — and some provided both. Friday is the day we’ve been looking forward to since Game 5 in Detroit. And it’s about damn time the playoffs are here.

Let’s just hope the first round doesn’t put us to sleep.

The Blackhawks face the Nashville Predators and  Barry Trotz’s trap defense, which makes want to have a Drain-O cocktail. Despite the fact it normally took the ‘Hawks at least a period and a half to figure it out, they were 4-2 against the Preds this season. And I’m not going to bitch about the relatively easy commute for the first-round series.

I hate saying this because I’m fully convinced I can jinx even the most inevitable outcomes, but is anyone honestly worried about this series? Maybe that’s what worries me…

I’m going to skip the recap tonight and let you read my Committed Indian “season review” piece, which was in Sunday’s issue. Over the course of this week, you’ll get a playoff preview against Nashville, a Farewell to  Cristobal Huet post, amongst other Preds-related content.

‘Til then, here’s my piece from the Committed Indian:

Great teams face adversity head-on and build a legacy based on overcoming challenges to reach the ultimate goal of winning a championship.

No matter who is hoisting the Stanley Cup in June, take solace in the fact the Blackhawks are well on their way to bringing Chicago a championship – even if it’s not this season.

There have been some great moments in 2009-10, and I’ve been lucky enough to see most of them in Section 326, Row 12, Seat 11. This team has the best chance of bringing a Stanley Cup to Chicago in my lifetime, and I’ll never forget what I’ve experienced this season.

The early season comeback against Calgary showed heart. The Black Wednesday Massacre in San Jose showed dominance. The six Blackhawks Olympians showed pride.

But for as many great moments these Blackhawks have given us, it’s the down times – and often strange times – this team has overcome to be sitting atop the Western Conference on the last day of the regular season. They’ve lived up to the expectations despite the ever-growing spotlight.

Marian Hossa didn’t make his Blackhawks debut until the day before Thanksgiving. It didn’t matter. Jonathan Toews missed six games, and it didn’t matter. They blew leads and experienced losing streaks that brought fans close to the ledge, and it didn’t matter. Patrick Kane, fresh off his off-season cabbie incident, got caught with John Madden and Kris Versteeg partying with average-looking-at-best women in Vancouver, and it didn’t matter.

Right now, the Blackhawks defense is being held together with duct tape because of injuries to Brian Campbell and Kim Johnsson while QStache shuffles the lines nearly every night to compensate.

Still, it doesn’t matter.

All of this, along with the season-long goaltender debate between Cristobal Huet and Antti Niemi, created enough drama and distractions to send the average team into a tailspin toward the bottom of the standings. Yet with a victory today, the Blackhawks will be skating Game 1 at the United Center for every playoff series in which they’re involved.

It’s a dramatized version of success, but it’s success nonetheless. Not everyone is convinced, but that doesn’t matter either. The Blackhawks have convinced themselves, and that’s what matters most. The shortest distance between two points is always a straight line, but there’s no shame in avoiding some Chicago potholes along the way to reach a goal.

Success is often hinged on victories alone. What makes this Blackhawks team special is how they’ve been able to deal with the losses. It’s easy to stand by a team with all cylinders clicking and a limited amount of distractions. Much like life, it’s overcoming the difficulties and obstacles which add to the thrill of eventually accomplishing a goal.

Even if the Stanley Cup heads to a different city when the playoffs end, this season will not be a disappointment. The dedication is there in this Blackhawks team, no matter how rough times may get.

I’ll never forget the great things I’ve witnessed on the ice this season from this Blackhawks team. But it’s what this team has overcome to reach the amount of success its achieved up to this point.

Don’t think the Blackhawks will quit until they reach they’re “One Goal” – no matter what stands in their way.

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