CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 17: Dave Bolland #36 of the Chicago Blackhawks shoots the puck against the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center on December 17, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Red Wings 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
I'd like to think the revolution starts now. I'd like to think that Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews will start dominating every game like we're used to seeing, reinstituting the cocky stride the Hawks once had. I'd like to think Duncan Keith will be more effective than the town drunk on a Saturday night on payday weekend and will again snuff out the opposition's top threats while wheeling the Hawks the other way.
But there have been too many false dawns this season. And it can't be another one starting tonight.
The Hawks have to ace this roadtrip, and this is a very winnable game. Other winnable dates await in the form of the Alberta Twins, Calgary and Edmonton. But 4-2 is the least required on this sojourn, so a win tonight pretty much becomes a must.
Everyone is accounted for. The Hawks won't have been this healthy since the start of the season, having only played three games in 15 days. 32 games in which they'll need probably 40 points to feel really secure about life in general start the close to the season.
The Hawks will roll out the same lineup they have been recently, and Marty Turco will get the start. His last effort was a win at home against the Predators, where he wasn't that good but a 3rd period explosion finally bailed him out for once. The Hawks will need to get Turks going, so Coach Q doesn't get tempted to burn out Corey Crawford, who has had his struggles in back to back situations. Turco needs to prove he can at least take that load off.
In a vacuum, these two points should be so easily gained. Columbus doesn't do anything well, and have one line that can hurt you. In reality, they only have one player who can in Rick Nash, and they've kept him in check for most of the season. If the Hawks can forge a lead early, Nash either tried to make it all up himself or completely chucks it in, neither of which the Jackets find beneficial.
Columbus has been sinking for two months now, pretty much because they are not getting other-wordly play from what was their backup goalie in Mathieu Garon. When he was making deals with the devil in October and November, the Jackets surged. But he's returned to "just a guy" status, and the warts the Jackets always had are now much clearer. They don't score much, they can't keep you from scoring a lot, and their special teams are a modern dance interpretation of anarchy. When the Hawks have cared against this team, they've swatted them aside in two wins by a combined score of 9-3, and it wasn't that close. When they didn't, they surrendered four straight goals in a terrible loss at home.
The time for the Hawks to mumble through their lines and stare longingly at the clock are over. They've got 32 chances to prove they are the team we thought they can be, and should act like it. A road trip that has to be a success is a lot more likely to be that when it starts with a win. So get on it.