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SportsMonday: Blackhawks Treading Ice

There is nothing wrong with the Blackhawks that a four- or five-game winning streak won't fix. There is nothing wrong with the Blackhawks that a four- or five-game winning streak won't fix. There is nothing wrong with the Blackhawks that a four- or five-game winning streak won't fix.

This must be our mantra for the foreseeable future. The squad just passed the halfway point of the season! There is still plenty of time for goodness sake after the Hawks posted a rock-solid 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday afternoon!

And sure, the 5-4 loss to the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights two days prior was rough. (And again, for gosh sakes, why the "Golden Knights?" Why not a nickname with some sort of connection to your outrageously unique town? "Golden Knights" is the lamest team name since the Utah Jazz.) After that game the Hawks again found themselves alone in last place in their seven-team division.

Actually, it was more than rough. It felt like the beginning of the end. And there is a great chance it was the end of the fairy tale for goalie Jeff Glass. Glass had made his NHL debut for the Blackhawks at the advanced age of 32 one week prior and had broken in with some solid performances. But he gave up several softies against the Knights and then fellow back-up Anton Forsberg played much better in front of the net against the Oilers.

On the other hand, Glass will almost certainly have at least one more chance to impress. The Hawks have a back-to-back starting Tuesday in Ottawa and then at home versus the Wild. Forsberg figures to get one start and Glass the other.

And with injured starter Corey Crawford still not even skating on the off day Saturday, these are probably the only guys the Hawks have for that same foreseeable future we were talking about earlier.

No matter who plays in goal, the Hawks need to be better defensively in general, not just in front of the net. The latest guy to play poorly enough to earn a trip to the press box (where inactive players spend game days/nights) was Connor Murphy.

Murphy was the highly touted defensive centerpiece who was the primary return of the Hawks' trade of stellar, multi-championship-winning blue-liner Niklas Hjalmarrson this past off-season. And has given the team stretches of solid play so far this season. But it was his brutally ill-advised pinch that sent the Knights on their way to the game-winning breakaway in the third period of the back-and-forth game on Friday.

Coach Q's description of Murphy's benching as just another roster rotation on a team with too many good defensemen simply doesn't pass the eye test. The spotlight will shine brightly on Murphy when he returns to action.

As of Monday, the Hawks had totaled 46 points on the season. They are right behind the Avalanche and the Wild, who are tied for fifth in the Central Division with 47 each. The good news is that while the Hawks are considerably further behind the fourth-place Stars (51) in the Central (the top three finishers in each division automatically make the playoffs), they only have one point less than the Ducks, who are fourth in the Pacific Division.

Finishing ahead of the Ducks (and the Wild and Avalanche) would give the Hawks the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Wait a minute, you mean we're only a point out of the second wild-card? So what's the big deal? The big deal is the number of teams the Hawks have to pass. There is a ton of work to be done.

But there is plenty of time to do it! That's the spirit! There is plenty of time. There is plenty of time. There is plenty of time.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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