Most people would say the Blackhawks started sputtering the day they lost Patrick Kane in that game against St. Louis.
Well, what about the fact that the Blackhawks also started sputtering the day they lost Bryan Bickell in that same game against St. Louis?
Yeah, that's a bit of a stretch.
Even Bickell, who, along with Ben Smith scored to lead the Hawks to a 3-2 shootout win over the Wild on Thursday, wasn't buying that one.
"Kaner's offensive ability is special; in the games he's been out of we've only been averaging 1.6 goals per game," said Bickell, who returned after missing six games with an upper body injury. "He's a big part of our offense and now that Tazer's out too, to get some contributions from Smitty and myself, it's huge for our confidence."
But while most of the talk lately had been initially about losing Kane, and now being without Jonathan Toews as well, there's consistently been one guy who's been singing the praises of Bickell and the way the big forward had been playing just prior to suffering an upper body injury against the Blues.
That would be Hawks coach Joel Quenneville.
"I think we really like the way he was playing there prior to getting hurt," Quenneville said after Thursday's morning skate. "We like the way he's been skating here as well. Hopefully, we can recapture exactly how he was playing right then.
"We need that presence out there as well and the pace that he brings and physicality."
Bickell brought a little bit of it all on his second-effort rebound just a few minutes into the third period. In fact it looked like it might prove to be the game-winner until the Wild tied things up with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
"Bicks comes back in the lineup and scores a big goal," Duncan Keith said. "That's the kind of thing we're going to need going forward."
And after an 0-3 road trip and returning home with a kind of patchwork lineup against Minnesota -- including David Rundblad jumping in as a last-minute addition when Johnny Oduya couldn't go -- well, that's exactly the type of play the Hawks will need going forward.
"Tonight was a big win; we've got a lot of good players out of the lineup," Keith said. "A lot of different guys stepped up."
And they played the type of grinding, tight-checking game Quenneville was hoping to see.
"I thought we played the way we had to play," the coach said. "Playing it simple, advancing the puck, check-first mentality and five-man units all over the ice."
And then there was the simple fact that the night ended with a victory.
"It was fun to get two points in an overtime game, which was something we haven't seen in a long time," Quenneville said.
The victory means the Hawks were able to stay 3 points behind Colorado for second place in the Central Division. The Avs beat the Rangers 3-2 on Thursday.