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updated: 4/10/2011 11:55 PM

Wild's generosity gets Hawks into postseason

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One of the most enduring bits of advice in sports is don't rely on the generosity of others.

Instead, take care of your own business, especially when the alternative is to rely on the non-playoff, barely above .500 Minnesota Wild.

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But the Blackhawks don't need no stinking advice.

The Hawks were beaten by Detroit on Sunday afternoon but qualified for the postseason because Minnesota beat Dallas on Sunday night.

Celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music … or maybe just breathe the deepest sigh of relief before preparing for a first-round playoff opener Wednesday at Vancouver.

"With this year's parity, there's unpredictability," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Everyone going into the playoffs has to believe they have a chance to win."

That's true this year, last year, next year, any year in the NHL because its postseason features more surprises than any of the other major sports leagues does.

Thanks to the Wild's victory over the Stars, the Hawks own the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot. So, how thrilled do you think top-seeded Vancouver is to draw the defending Stanley Cup champs, who eliminated the Canucks in each of the past two years?

This is a considerably different Hawks team due to the NHL's salary cap and injuries. Except for an eight-game winning streak in late February/early March, it struggled all season for consistency.

"I think we're the only team, and Dallas, to fight all 82 games to get in," Quenneville said.

Actually the Hawks fought the entire regular season to get in and the Stars did to get eliminated.

Maybe there have been odder ways on odder days for a team to qualify for the playoffs, but this one on this day had to rank right up there with them.

"We didn't do our job," Patrick Kane said of the 4-3 loss to the formidable Wings.

Didn't matter because the Hawks lost but won.

They did the former on skates with their signals crossed and the latter on their rumps with their fingers crossed. First the Hawks had fate in their own hands at home; then they ill-advisedly left it in the Wild's up in the wild.

You could hear the despair in the Hawks' tone after the loss to Detroit: Quenneville said, "It came down to a tough ending," and captain Jonathan Toews said, "I don't even know if I can watch the (Stars-Wild) game."

Not much later in the day the Hawks were in the playoffs and, as winger Patrick Sharp said on NHL Network, "I'm thankful."

Based on their loss to the Wings you can say the Hawks backed in if you want. That wouldn't be fair, however.

The playoffs aren't based on one game or one day. They're determined by 82 games and six months.

The Hawks did compile 97 points, normally enough to get in. But this season in this conference, that total nearly fell short.

Now the Hawks are, as is said, in it to win it. Players in any sport say they just want to make the playoffs and then anything can happen, and now this team has an opportunity to prove it.

That was another strange aspect to Sunday: The Hawks' season could have ended in a flash, but now it will last at least one more week, maybe even a couple of series, perhaps even a couple of months.

Whatever happens, the Blackhawks can be grateful for the generosity of others.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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