Whenever you begin a long road trip, the idea is to be .500 or better. Hawks fans have been spoiled as the past three seasons the Hawks have come back from the Circus Trip with a 4-2 record or better in the carry-on bag.
Unfortunately, that's not in the cards this year, thanks to that cubist form of anarchy the Hawks put on display in Calgary and Edmonton.
But .500 is still there for the taking, and that wouldn't be failure. The Hawks can take the first step to that Friday by piling on to the misery of the Anaheim Ducks. The Mighty Mallards have two wins in their last 14 games. They have one win this month. They've given up 13 goals in their last three games. They have not won a game this season when they have given up the first goal. They're coming off three horrible losses when they didn't even look interested.
So on the one hand, the Hawks could be facing a desperate team that's going to come out firing to change their ways. We saw it in Edmonton, and the Hawks weren't ready for it. Or anything. Add to that the Ducks bring a physical edge that has always given them a tough time -- especially as the Ducks don't hesitate to cross the line which occasionally causes the Hawks to chuck it -- and it could be a long, afternoon.
But this is also a team that hasn't needed much of a request to throw up its hands and wait for the final horn. If the Hawks score first, well, the evidence is there. When a team has been as bad as the Ducks have, confidence just can't be that high and whatever amount there is can be easily shattered by an early goal or two. The Hawks shouldn't have any pity, come out with their own fire and look to bury Anaheim early. Even a 2-0 lead after one period would probably signal the reaper coming for the Ducks this afternoon.
The threat is as it always is. The top line of Anaheim with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, usually accompanied by Bobby Ryan but he got hurt on Wednesday and might not play. But they've been horrific and uninterested in their own end, and the key will be to keep them there. Teemu Selanne always scores against the Hawks, but he's playing with nothing. The rest of this Ducks team is either unproven kids or proven-nothing vets. This is a hanging curveball the Hawks simply can't foul off. A drive into the gap is the minimum.
Sam Fels is the proprietor of The Committed Indian, an unofficial program for the Blackhawks. You may have seen him hocking the magazine outside the United Center at Gate 3. The program is also available for purchase online. Fels is a lifelong 'Hawks fan and he also writes for Second City Hockey .