Put the last game behind you, and move on to the next game. I've heard this sentiment by several of the players.
Never being satisfied with their present game. I've heard "areas for improvement" by several of the players when asked where the weaknesses are on this team.
So, what is making the difference this year? Why do the Hawks appear to be heading for cup #2 in the last 4 years?
1) Players came in to camp focused. Many of the players played overseas, and those that didn't were practicing and were physically ready to play right off the bat. I brought up the point that Captain Jonathan Toews had several practices that present and former players attended. The weight lifting and dedication to being ready once the lockout was over appeared to be a top priority for the Hawks.
2) Focusing on SPECIAL TEAMS: The Power Play has vastly improved, and the Penalty Kill has been amazing. There was definitely a new focus on this part of the game by the new regime.
3) Camaraderie : I have also heard this several times. The team "genuinely" like each other. This is important. No bad blood. People willing to fight for each other. The last 2 years, there was NOT that camaraderie. There were players who were replacements,.....and they acted like it. Simply happy to make the team,...but don't expect much more. (e.g. Fernando Pisani, Brendan Morrison, Sami Lepisto, Jake Dowell, Jack Skille, Nick Boynton, Ryan Johnson, Jordan Hendry, John Scott).........ahh, those were the days I wanted to slit my wrists with boredom.
4) Not being complacent or satisfied. This point can go hand in hand with being focused. However, it was more than being focused. It is the fact that the whole team is there to pick each other up. The Jamal Mayers fight on Raffi Torres picked up the entire team. Jonathan Toews rare fight against Joe Thornton. Duncan Keith, and Andrew Shaw and even Brandon Bollig following suit. You can come in to camp focused,....but it takes an entire team effort to keep that focus. THIS is how the Hawks differ.
5) Patrick Kane's will to be a TOP forward: This is what the Hawks and the Hawks fans have been hoping for. We have not been disappointed with Patrick's play in the past. We just never put him on the same level as the Stamkos', Malkins', Crosby's, Ovechkin's of the world......until NOW. He only has ONE game all year (Detroit game) where he didn't register a point. WOW!!!!! he is on the pace for ~75 point season (in 48 games).
6) Crawford and Emery: both are playing like #1 goaltenders.
Look at those impressive goaltending stats eh?
Ray is 4-0-0 with a 2.21 GAA and an equally impressive .930 Sv%.
Corey is 7-0-3 (all shoot out losses) with a 1.65 GAA also boasts a Sv% of .935.
7) Coaching : The coaches are balancing rest and practice magnificently. During a strike shortened season where almost every game feels like a playoff game, the coaches have instilled that urgency early. 'You can't win a season in the first month,....but, you can certainly lose it'.
So, this is what it takes......They aren't over cocky or arrogant. They need to continue on this path of forgetting about yesterday and focusing on today. They continue like this and they WILL win the pennant. So, let us sit back and watch each game wondering whether or not this is going to be a special year.