Before the All-Star break, it was clear the Blackhawks needed some sort of rest -- they were playing flat, uninspired hockey at home, not only losing games but losing them in a manner that suggested borderline empathy. It happens to everyone, we guess, and the Blackhawks had it. They needed some time off.
Unfortunately, the Hawks' schedule dictated that time off end with a 17-day, eight-game road trip, the second-longest such trip in the history of the franchise and the longest in the past, oh, 16 years. It's the sort of trip that most teams dread, and it's certainly no way to kick off a second half that will determine whether this year's Hawks team is a first-half flash or a budding contender.
Thus far, the results are tending toward the latter. In their first four games of the trip, the Hawks have gone 3-1. They first topped the Ducks, then lost to the Kings in an ugly defensive performance. Then, surprisingly, they managed to beat the Sharks at home, only the second time the first-place Sharks have lost at home all season. If hockey was college basketball, that's what we'd call a signature win.
Last night, the Hawks kept up their winning ways, beating the Oilers in Edmonton 3-1.
We'll be honest. We were dreading this Hawks road trip, afraid that the Hawks wouldn't have fully recovered from their pre-break woes, or, for whatever reason, would drop a couple of key games and hurt themselves irrevocably, or, you know, pull a Bulls and drop basically every game on the road trip. We were prepared for disaster. That's one thing we're still learning about the 2008-09 Hawks -- disaster isn't really their thing. Neither is losing, apparently.