The Blackhawks just didn't fall into a five-game winning streak that saw Patrick Kane surpass the elite 1,000-point milestone.
The streak and the fun, meaningful hockey we've been watching the Hawks play lately took everyone on the bench and in the room getting on board.
"We're finally starting to full buy-in to the system," said Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner, who saved 36 of 38 shots to help defeat the Winnipeg Jets 5-2 on Sunday night. "Full effort level, doing the right things at the right times. 15 games ago, we started playing good with leads, playing different, not backing up, just keep going at it.
"We did the same thing (Sunday) in the third. Not just backing up that whole period, we went after them.
"Everyone's just doing their job, and we're starting to feel (that) doing those things gets you rewarded, and everyone just keeps doing it. We're doing well but we've just got to keep doing it because every point is crucial.
"It's a learning curve. You don't just step into this league and everything's going to click for you. It's very seldom very few players do that. All of our young guys are starting to play really well. Every line, our D pair, everyone's just clicking and we're doing the right things. We've just got to keep that up, we can't deviate from it and just keep trying to stay consistent."
For now, the Hawks have been effectively utilizing head coach Jeremy Colliton's system and playing well enough as a unit to not only win five straight, but tie the Jets in the Western Conference to sit just three points out of a Wild Card spot.
A sign of the good times was the Blackhawks swarming Patrick Kane to celebrate his 1,000th NHL point milestone in the third period of Sunday's game. Players jumped over the bench to congratulate Kane for the greatest sight the United Center has seen since the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup on home ice in 2015.
"Our habits are better and we’re protecting each other with how we play," Colliton said. "That’s a big thing. And with that, you gain confidence. You gain confidence that the guy beside you is going to do the right thing, there’s a little bit of peer pressure as well to do it for him.
"We’re improving, too. we have a bunch of guys who are getting better. They’re developing, becoming more and more comfortable in the NHL or maybe it’s an increased role in the NHL and with our team. Hopefully that will continue."
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