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Hawk Talk: More Good Than Bad

by Staff Writer / Chicago Blackhawks

Hockey is a funny game.

Sometimes you play great and lose; sometimes you look lost out there and win. Sometimes a power play looks like YOU'RE the team down a man; other times it looks like five men against just a goaltender.

How many times have you heard there's a fine line between winning and losing? It's never more true than in hockey.

So far, the Hawks have ridden that fine line to a decent enough record, but how that will play out long term is the big question. There's no doubt the scenario that faces the Hawks is one where the arrow is pointing up. Why? Simple. You can't teach scoring but you can teach defense.

A year ago -- OK, who we kidding -- for the last few years the Hawks have had little in terms of finishers. I think that problem is a lot closer to being solved with one Martin Havlat on the team. Throw in supporting players like Radim Vrbata, Michal Handzus, and even Jeff Hamilton and the Hawks are much better in this area.

Even in something as simple as an empty-net goal (see Havlat), having these players will turn potential overtime games into wins, and shootouts won't be a matter of Trent Yawney closing his eyes and saying, "You, get out there." There isn't a coach alive who can teach what Havlat can do.

This brings us to the D. On the radio and even in last week's column I mentioned that I still think this will be a strength. It's a work in progress, but the signs are there. Already, since the craziness of the season and home openers, the blueliners have settled in and are simply making fewer mistakes. Whether it's heart or hunger or just talent, this group has something I like.

Jassen Cullimore has had a rough start, but as a group they have a certain moxie that will translate to effective blueline play as we move along. They have to be coachable and Adrian Aucoin needs to use that C on his chest to lead THIS group more than even the whole team.

Early indications are the Central Division will be much, much tighter than in recent years. Wins now will mean a lot in March and April. The Hawks already have shown playing on the road doesn't necessarily mean, well, what it used to mean: a loss. That in itself will make this a respectable season.

So far, more good than bad. Six months of more good than bad will mean a winning season and a happier Chicago Blackhawks fan. The roller coaster has begun.

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