CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 17: Bryan Bickell #29 of the Chicago Blackhawks checks Brian Rafalski #28 of 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)
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."
That's one of those annoying bits of advice you generally hear from your parents in high school when you're moaning about your homework or something. But it rings true for the Hawks tonight. As big of a win as it was, considering the injuries and the way they came into the game, it'll matter naught if they don't back it up with the same performance against the Los Angeles Kings. The Hawks seem to get this, based on an energetic and lively practice yesterday.
Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, and Viktor Stalberg are all still out of the lineup, so the Hawks will again have to focus on the little things that they did so well against Detroit. Getting the puck in deep in the offensive zone rather than trying to make a move at the blue line and turning it over. Going after the puck like someone threated to pull your armpit hairs out if you don't get it. Once you cause those turnovers, shoot and crash the net.
On the defensive side, the Hawks were brilliant in their structure. You didnt see wingers running all over the zone to try and cover, which leads to breakdowns. They smothered the Wings' pointment so they couldn't unleash shots that would cause rebounds. They furiously chased down loose pucks, which their clogging of the passing lanes caused more than usual. Most of all, they won all the 50/50 battles for the puck. They didn't always clear at every chance they got, but this also seriously tampered down the amount of time the Wings could set up. Again, they'll have to do so tonight.
Keeping the points at bay will be tantamount tonight, because a majority of the Kings offense revolves around them blasting from the blue line into a pile of bodies in front. If the Hawks can do that, they'll be halfway home.
Then they'll just have to beat Jonathan Quick, who might be playing the best of any goalie in the league, but we'll get to that.
Hawks Lineup vs. Kings
Line 1: Patrick Sharp-Jonathan Toews-Troy Brouwer
Line 2: Bryan Bickell-Dave Bolland-Fernando Pisani
Line 3; Jack Skille-Jake Dowell-Tomas Kopecky
Line 4: John Scott-Ryan Johnson-Jordan Hendry
Defensive Pair 1: Duncan Keith-Brent Seabrook
Pair 2: Brian Campbell-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Pair 3: Nick Boynton-Jassen Cullimore
Starting goalie: Corey Crawford