It hasn't been forever since the Blackhawks last won two games in a row. It only feels that way.
The Hawks gave themselves and their fans a much needed dose of hope over the last 24 hours, as they followed Sunday's 3-2 shootout victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 5-3 win at St. Louis Monday afternoon.
The last time the Hawks won back-to-back games? It was a full month ago, when they beat the Nashville Predators 6-3 on Jan. 16 and followed that up with a 4-1 win at Detroit on Jan. 22.
Since then, it has been mostly win one, lose one, win one, lose one, win one, lose one. It's hard to make up any ground in the tightly-packed Western Conference playing .500 hockey, but the good news for the Hawks is they are still right in the hunt despite themselves.
Even with Monday's win, the Hawks remain in 11th place in the West. However, they are only four points out of fourth. Give it a week's time and things could change drastically, either positively or negatively. Here's how the standings look right now:
4. San Jose 72 points, 60 games played
5. Nashville 70 points, 59 games played
6. Calgary 70 points, 61 games played
7. Minnesota 68 points, 59 games played
8. Dallas 68 points, 59 games played
9. Los Angeles 68 points, 59 games played
10. Anaheim 68 points, 60 games played
11. Hawks 68 points, 60 games played
12. Columbus 64 points, 58 games played
13. St. Louis 63 points, 58 games played
Based on the mood in town, you'd think the Hawks were in need of a miracle to make the postseason. Obviously, that is not the case. There is a need for urgency. There is no need for panic. One good winning streak will get the Hawks right where they need to be. Of course, one bad losing streak will send things the other way. However, there is no need to jump off the bridge right at this moment.
One thing the Hawks do need to do immediately is find more consistency in their game. Even in victories, they have stretches of play that are just brutal. Their first period against St. Louis on Monday was enough to cause me to send an empty box of Cheez-Its flying across the living room. The Hawks found themselves trailing 2-0 after the first 20 minutes. It was brutal.
In contrast, the Hawks totally dominated St. Louis in the second period, scoring four straight goals to take a 4-2 lead. The third period was an exercise in holding on for dear life. Up and down, up and down, even within games. That's the story of the season.
But if you're looking for a reason to believe, here are a few:
1. Patrick Kane has seven goals and seven assists in his last nine games. He's been playing his best hockey of the season the last two weeks.
2. Jonathan Toews has three goals and 14 assists in his last 10 games.
3. Patrick Sharp has five goals in his last seven games.
4. Marian Hossa played his best game in months Monday, a goal, an assist, +2, three shots on goal, two hits, two blocked shots. Hossa mixed it up physically for the first time in forever. Maybe that means he's finally getting close to full health.
If all four of those guys play well the last 22 games of the season, the Hawks make the playoffs easy. If not, well, it's going to be a long summer for the organ-I-zation.