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MUSICK: Hawks' hot start is no fantasy

Caption
(Charlie Arbogast (STF))
Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) makes a save on a rebound attempt by Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charlie Arbogast)

CHICAGO – Maybe you think of Queen when “Bohemian Rhapsody” plays on the radio.

I think of "Wayne’s World." Then I think of Wayne and Garth’s beloved Blackhawks.

“Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?”

Great questions.

After yet another nail-biter by the Blackhawks, who remained unbeaten in regulation time but fell to 10-0-3 with a shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks, I couldn’t help but wonder.

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

I mean, this can’t be real, can it? The regular season is more than one-quarter complete, and the Hawks have yet to lose a non-shootout game. They have 23 points out of a possible 26.

Using my five senses, I put the topic to the test.

Game on.

Vision The first-place Blackhawks sure look real.

From a black folding chair in the upper levels of the United Center, I watched Corey Crawford make an incredible, sprawling save on a point-blank shot in the first period. I watched Nick Leddy raise his stick and blast a shot into the net for a Hawks goal. I watched a determined group of Hawks kill off a 5-on-3 penalty. I watched Bryan Bickell absorb a few punches before he wrestled an angry Duck to the ice.

But then I watched Crawford give up back-to-back goals in the shootout, and I watched Ducks goaltender Viktor Something-or-Other stuff shots by Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad. During a charmed season, a one-point night counts as a disappointment for the Hawks.

Hearing The Hawks passed the hearing test before first-line center Jonathan Toews hunched over and won the opening faceoff. A sellout crowd of 21,188 fans stood and screamed at the top of their hockey-loving lungs while Jim Cornelison belted the anthem in his booming tenor.

If you have stood in the United Center for the anthem before a Hawks game, then you know how loud it gets. The noise blasts through your ears and climbs up your nostrils and invades your chest. The only thing louder – maybe – would be a B-1 bomber piloted by Metallica.

Smell Go ahead. Take a whiff. Yep, that’s real.

The Hawks’ locker room smells like a seventh-grader’s gym locker times 20. After players spend almost three hours sweating into gloves, shoulder pads, shorts, shin guards and skates, they remove them and hang them in their lockers to unlock the stench.

By the way, if I offended any hygienic seventh graders, I apologize. I can speak only from my experience, when I took my gym shirt home to wash about once every two weeks. Gross.

Taste If I had attended the game as a fan, this would have been easy. I would have bellied up to one of the stadium’s 46 concessions stands for a jumbo hot dog and a pretzel and steak fries and popcorn and another pretzel and a beer. Hmm, better make it a light beer. I’m trying to watch my calories.

Yet drinking in the press box is against the rules. I know that this will surprise some of you who read my work. Instead, I drank a bottle of water, which is basically unfrozen ice, which brings us back to hockey, which brings us back to the Hawks, who remain real.

Touch Unless you are some exotic species of bird with a body temperature of about 105 degrees, you will feel cold at a Hawks game.

I am not an exotic bird. As players skated on the ice hundreds of feet below, my hands felt cold. My toes felt cold. I touched the cover of my notebook, and that felt cold, too.

But the Hawks are hot. And they are for real.

• Northwest Herald sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at tmusick@shawmedia.com and on Twitter @tcmusick.

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