Detroit Red Wings' Justin Abdelkader, center, raises his arms toward teammate Drew Miller, right, after scoring the first goal of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks in the first period in Chicago, Friday Dec. 30, 2011.Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, left, looks on. (AP Photo/Charles Cherney)
With two more games in just a week's time against Detroit, perhaps the final judgment of Friday's win will have to wait.
Hawks fans will never, however, hesitate to fully enjoy a win against the team they've dreaded for more than a decade.
The main story Friday was the team's 3rd period domination. After the Hawks took the lead with just four minutes off the clock, the Wings could only manage two shots on goal the rest of the period.
Sure, they took their share of penalties, even a couple that were completely unenforced. They almost never make that mistake. And yes, the post came to the rescue on Henrik Zetterberg.
That's not really the issue.
The expected, usual siege from The Empire never came. The Hawks denied entry into the zone and won most of the battles. Even with goalie pulled in the last 90 seconds, the Wings couldn't even muster a shot. Or a threat.
If Hawks fans are looking for clues as to what this team can accomplish when the leaves on the trees come back, that's the most encouraging sign.
What is it that every high school football or basketball coach tells his players? "Score and you may win. If they don't score, you can't lose." I think that's how it goes.
The fact that the Hawks could so easily wipe out one of the league's more potent attacks when it was necessary is a huge step into going all in with this team.
There were still warts. The power play is laughably predictable and easily snuffed out by any penalty kill that can basically stand up and watch film. Dave Bolland's line continue to be hemmed in far too often by other teams' main offensive threats.
But the good far outweighs the bad. Corey Crawford looks to be getting back to form, as do Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. These are far more important developments. There are two more games to go against these guys, but for now we head into 2012 with perhaps the most satisfying victory of the year.