Well, here we are, just past the quarter pole of the regular season. The Blackhawks are returning home after a “take your pants off and run around the block while primal screaming” kind of road trip. They started off by leaving a mushroom stamp on the collective forehead of Alberta; Antti Niemi stole two points in Vancouver; and they bent San Jose over the kitchen sink. In Anaheim, it wasn’t their day and Jonathan Quick stole the second point in Los Angeles by doing cartwheels in the crease. All told, nine out of a possible 12 points makes a successful Circus Trip, and with the makeshift elephant lavatory now cleansed from the Blackhawk dressing room (They better not have stepped on the Indian, otherwise Ben Eager may have them euthanized), the Hawks are ready to return home.
While the end of the road trip may leave a stale taste in more than a few fans’ mouths, one of the more encouraging things to see was how well the Hawks played in the Staples Center during the last game of the trip. The place has been a House of Horrors for this generation’s Blackhawks and on Saturday, they played their best game there in quite some time. One point there – especially following five straight road games – is nothing to scoff at.
Without taking anything away from the bitchslap the Hawks delivered last Wednesday in San Jose, the Sharks are not the powerhouse of years past. Though their back end is reasonably strong (much like the Feather’s), after Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau, they’re a mish-mosh of forwards with a dash of Joe Pavelski mixed in. That should be good enough for them to win the division again, but the gap is closing quickly as the Kings get better. Even with another President’s Trophy win, to us, they seem destined for another playoff letdown; there’s no telling who Heatley will kill or quit on if that happens, but it bears watching.