Suddenly, the Blackhawks have gone from "might miss the playoffs" to a team that seems to be gelling at exactly the right time to have a deep playoff run.
With all the changes made in the team necessitated by the salary cap after the Cup last June, it's not surprising it took this long to get everything together, especially with all the early-season injuries. Now, Jonathan Toews is playing like an MVP candidate and Corey Crawford has been solid in goal and appears to be given (justifiably) the No. 1 job.
The Blackhawks' next five games are a tour through the Eastern Conference, so they'll need some help from other teams to keep that fourth spot in the West; they also stand now only nine points behind the Red Wings and do have a shot at taking the Central Division. But one thing at a time.
Tonight's game starts at 7:30 p.m. CST and will be televised on WGN (Chicago only).