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One Minute Remaining: Hawks Rising

by Harvey Wittenberg / Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks marketing theme this year is "Red Rising." After the first month of the season, it's easy to see that the famed Blackhawks emblem certainly has been rising with the play of 1st round draft picks Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

Hawks coach Denis Savard has indicated that so far the two teenage rookies have been his best players, but it is a team game and to be successful it is essential that several of the veterans contribute more than they have up to this point.

There's no doubt that the expected return later this month of last year's top scorer, Martin Havlat, will help. Havlat injured his shoulder in the first game of the season and has resumed skating.

Regardless of the record, there are a lot of positives and, ironically, they have come from the Hawks' arch rivals -- Detroit.

Free agent veteran Robert Lang has come through with several key goals; Jason Williams, obtained in a trade last year, has added a number of goals on the power play; and Brent Sopel, signed before the season started after being unsigned by the Red Wings, has provided extra experience on the blue line.

The last two seasons the Hawks were on the short-end of too many one-goal games and didn't have enough firepower to come from behind in the 3rd period. Thus far, the Hawks have already come from behind more times than last season and have outscored their opponents in the final period.

The key to success for every team is still goaltending. Nikolai Khabibulin has flashed his old form to keep the Hawks in most games, enabling them to come from behind in the 3rd period, and Patrick Lalime has also provided the necessary experience which saw the team victorious in the first two sets of back-to-back games.

With the big six-game road trip coming up in the middle of the month, Savard is hoping that Sergei Samsonov, Yanic Perreault and Rene Bourque can regain the scoring touch they have displayed in their NHL careers, plus the return of a healthy Havlat.

With the convenience of the Rockford AHL team, there is additional depth nearby. And while November is not a make or break month, a successful road trip could go a long way to make "Red Rising" a strong statement to the rest of the NHL -- paced by a couple of #1 Hawk draft choices!

Harvey Wittenberg served as the Blackhawks' Public Address Announcer from 1961 to 2001 and is the author of "Tales from the Chicago Blackhawks." Contact him at

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