The Chicago Blackhawks defined what a fast start is supposed to be all about.
The Blackhawks made an impressive statement on opening day. They hammered the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings as they raised the banner in front of their fans. The Blackhawks showed no deference and no respect. They just laid a 5-2 beating on the Kings that wasn't as close as the score indicated.
That was just the jumping-off point for the Blackhawks. They would play 24 games before they would taste defeat in a 60-minute regulation game. That allowed them to shoot to the front of the pack in the Western Conference. While they would receive a serious challenge from the Anaheim Ducks, the Blackhawks would never lose their lead.
The Blackhawks responded to a pressure situation. After getting knocked out of the playoffs in the first round the last two years, head coach Joel Quenneville was feeling the heat. His players responded from day one.
There was no better example of the Blackhawks' skill than their Feb. 2 win at Calgary. The Blackhawks were dog-tired after playing the previous night in Vancouver and were outplayed throughout the game. The only reason the score was tied 1-1 in the late stages was the incredible play of goaltender Ray Emery.
However, when the Flames scored with 35 seconds to play to take a 2-1 lead, it seemed the Blackhawks were doomed. But there was no hesitation, as the Blackhawks maintained possession of the puck and smartly set up a tying goal that was scored by Marian Hossa.
The Blackhawks won the game in a shootout and it gave the team the look of potential champions.
They would go on to win the Presidents' Trophy and they are a solid favorite to get to the Stanley Cup Final.