The mood in the Blackhawks locker room after their 9-2 loss to Edmonton in November was understandably angry and frustrated.
It was an ugly loss in every sense, a big wake-up call for a Blackhawks team that was up and down through November. And its one that got the Blackhawks talking to their coaches and amongst themselves.
Apparently, those were some productive talks.
The Blackhawks head into Monday nights game against the Edmonton Oilers a much different and better team. They are 12-4-1 since that awful game and have the most points in the league with 52. The Blackhawks had several tough games in November, but the one in Edmonton set off the alarm bells.
Sometimes it takes a game like that where you take a step back and analyze things, defenseman Duncan Keith said. Our team games been great since then; weve played well. Sometimes games like that, they can just get out of hand. The next thing you know the scores bad. But we definitely took a lot of notice there.
Coach Joel Quenneville refers to that loss as a whatever-you-want-to-call-it type of game; the most negative word you use (to describe it).
The media questioned if the Blackhawks should still take their mid Circus-trip excursion to Las Vegas after such a loss. They did, and apparently the time away from the game and talking about the previous one helped.
Looking back, it was probably a good thing to talk about what was going on, Patrick Sharp said. I still think our best game of the season was that 1-0 loss to San Jose right after the Edmonton game. Maybe it was a good thing it happened.
The Blackhawks did seem to derive some lessons from that game. Their record since then proves they heeded them. The differences between the team in November and the team now are evident, and in a good way. The Blackhawks played with the team mentality the rest of that Circus Trip, going 2-1-0 on the back end of it. And they carried that into December, which was a very productive month for them.
We realized as a team that we needed to bring it every night, Jamal Mayers said. Were still a work in progress, still searching and we can still get better.
Perhaps it was a turning point. Maybe it was just the Blackhawks going through the November pains. Their travel schedule during that month was brutal and they were still integrating a couple of new players. That game was nevertheless a wakeup call, and the Blackhawks responded to it.
Were coming together as a team now, Keith said. I still think weve got a lot of room for improvement. But you can definitely feel it in the dressing room. Our chemistrys clicking now.