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One Minute Remaining: Close encounters continuing!

by Harvey Wittenberg / Chicago Blackhawks

With two Stanley Cups in four years, many fans may have thought that the Blackhawks would be cruising going into the season. However, heading into the second month of the schedule, the watchword is CLOSENESS!

Almost 85 percent of the Blackhawks' games so far have been decided by one goal, again indicating that there are no easy nights for the defending champions as each opponent tries to boost its game against the Hawks.

Last season, the Hawks were triumphant in one-goal matches with a mark of 19-3-5 in the 48-game schedule. The playoffs were even more dramatic, with the Hawks notching eight victories and only two defeats in one-goal outcomes. That's including the dramatic comeback in

Games 6 and 7 against Detroit, culminating in Brent Seabrook's OT winner in the deciding contest at the United Center. And no Hawk fan will ever forget the Cup-winning effort against Boston with two goals in 17 seconds—all coming in the final 76 seconds of regulation.

The 2010 champions saw their one-goal mark at 16-13-9 during the regular schedule, but were more dominant in the playoffs, with a 6-1 edge in the games decided by a lone marker; their other 10 victories were by two goals or more. Recalling the 2010 championship run, the most dramatic comeback happened in Game 5 against Nashville at the UC, when Patrick Kane tallied a shorthanded goal with 13 seconds left in regulation. Then Marian Hossa scored the winner in OT almost immediately after coming out of the penalty box.

Patrick Kane's Cup-winner in overtime against Philadelphia ended a 49-year Championship drought for Chicago's fourth title. The 1961 Hawks had finished third during the campaign in a six-team league and a modest one-goal record of 7-8-17 in the days before overtime. But in the opening playoff series against the favored Montreal Canadiens, the Hawks were 2-1 in one-goal contests, which included a triple-overtime win at the Stadium. Then, in Games 5 and 6, Glenn Hall blanked the Canadiens, and the Hawks went on to beat Detroit in six games.

The underdog 1938 Hawks were 8-7-9 in single-goal matches while compiling a losing season record, but went 4-0 in one-goal games in the playoffs. The 1934 Chicago Cup titlists saw a 10-8-11 mark in lone-goal decisions, but were 4-0-1 in the playoffs, capped by an overtime goal by Harold "Mush" March and a Charlie Gardiner shutout to prevail, 1-0 over Detroit.

If the trend continues this season, while it would be nice to see a lot more wide margins of victories, the key to success will be winning the "close encounters."

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