I've missed a few games, I know - but his time my absence has an excuse!
This weekend I made my way down to Chicago a little earlier than the Wings did, forgoing the piles of work I have to do and making it into town for the Blackhawks/Blues game on Friday. A few years back it would have been hard to get that excited about a match up between these two teams, but the game was almost as high-energy and exciting as what I've gotten used to seeing from the Wings. Even with former Wing Manny Legace stoning them more times than I could count in the first period, the Hawks', led by Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews and backstopped by Patrick Lalime, who certainly looks to be recovering from what have not been spectacular seasons, pulled off the win and it looked at points almost effortless.
The most impressive thing about the game, though, was the crowd. I took in a game at the United Center last April, and I saw firsthand how true the rumors were about how dead the place was:
The best part of the whole evening was when they announced that finally, with the passing of Bill Wirtz, this Sunday's Blackhawks/Wings game would be televised locally, the crowd absolutely erupted, stood, and gave the announcement a standing ovation until play resumed. I'm far from a Blackhawks fan (especially right this second), but it was an amazing moment for an Original Six city in which hockey was taking its last gasping breaths not even a season ago.
Of course, my excitement for the city and the team crashed and burned spectacularly after yesterday's game (even despite my rookie Jiri Hudler notching his fourth in six games and Tomas Kopecky putting on a nice show in a fight against Pat Sharp) - what is it about the Blackhawks that just kills us? Is it you, Robert Lang? Stop being spiteful! Was it me? Should I never have tried on that free hat? (And can I tell you all how much I'm really starting to hate those two kids?) There goes, once again, the chance to set a franchise record of 10 straight wins (a chance we've had three years in a row now, and never quite made it to), as well as Chris Osgood's 20-game win streak - but at least Henrik Zetterberg continued his own streak, now at 17 games with a point.
Let's hope they come out with a better effort this Tuesday against the Blues - another team who have looked much more formidable, this season, than in the past. I, for one, am happy not to have to see the Hawks again...until this Saturday.