Havlat makes the Hawks fly

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

There's something to be said about a player missing a third of the season and still leading his team in scoring.

That says something about the team as well.

But had Martin Havlat not missed 22 games this year, the Chicago Blackhawks may not be in the predicament they are in - well out of a playoff spot.

"He has great skill out there and the other team has to be aware of him when he's on the ice," said Blackhawks assistant coach Mark Hardy. "Obviously lately he's been a gamebreaker for us."

In 32 games, Havlat, 25, has 20 goals and 20 assists. Bryan Smolinski and Radim Vrbata are second in Hawks scoring with 31 points. Both have played over 50 games.

"I want to keep having the kind of games that I've been having the last five or six games," Havlat said. "But the whole team has been playing better lately."

The Blackhawks head into tonight's game on a two-game winning streak and have won four of their last five.

On Tuesday, Havlat practically beat the Calgary Flames single-handedly, scoring the two goals to tie the game, and then adding another during the shootout in the 3-2 victory. Both of his goals came were on the power play as he manned the point for the first time in his career.

"He's such a great puckhandler, he sees the ice so well and has a great shot too," Hardy said. "I think what our defencemen can learn from him is that it doesn't always have to be a big slapshot. Just getting pucks to the net in the right areas at the right time, you can score goals from it."

After a quick start, Havlat was sidelined for 19 games by an ankle injury. In his absence the Blackhawks went south, head coach Trent Yawney was fired and the playoffs became a pipedream.

"I think it's too bad that we had some key injuries at the beginning of the year which didn't help us," Havlat said. "But lately we've been playing much better and we'll see how it goes ... "


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