It's been three long years since the Blackhawks last saw the second round of the playoffs.
A battered and bruised Chicago team took the Canucks to the brink, losing in overtime of game seven on Vancouver ice in 2011. Last season, the Blackhawks took the Coyotes to overtime five consecutive games - and ultimately lost in game six.
The team is better this year: not just talent- and chemistry-wise, but coming off a record, albeit shortened, season. Coach Joel Quenneville has been able to consistently roll four lines without his trademarked "line combination blender"; Corey Crawford and Ray Emery split time in the net so well that they walked away with the William M....
The Blackhawks took their record to 20-0-3 on Tuesday night, and set a new team record while they were at it: for the first time in 86 years of team history, the Blackhawks have won 10 games in a row.
It was a special night in Chicago to begin with. The team celebrated Marian Hossa's 1,000th career game (played Sunday in Detroit) with a short pre-game ceremony. Hossa was presented with a silver hockey stick to commemorate his achievement as well as a painting of him hoisting the Stanley Cup; chants of "Hos-sa, Hos-sa," rained down from the rafters.
After that, it was time to get down and play hockey.
It is safe to say that the Wings are playing terrible. There is no way to put it besides tonight's game was unbelievably frustrating to watch. It is hard to imagine Minnesota was the team the Wings killed just three weeks ago, winning 5 to 3 with a hat trick from Henrik Zetterberg. Remember that? Tonight was definitely a different story. The Detroit Red Wings lost their third game in a row to the Minnesota Wild.