Blackhawks slumping en route to Playoffs
Last night’s loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets (ranked last in the Central Division/same division as Blackhawks) was the Hawks’ seventh defeat in the last ten games and second loss to the Blue Jackets in four days. Ouch.
Something’s off. But what is it? Before going into the Olympic break, the Blackhawks had major momentum. The team won four in a row (three in overtime) and looked as slick as a freshly zamboni-ed ice rink. They’ve played 13 games since they returned to the ice and have lost 8 of those 13 games, and two out of three overtime games resulted in losses.
It’s easy to point a finger in the direction of the ever-changing net. In the last ten games, three men tended goal at a 30% win rate. Niemi played six games and lost three (two in OT), Huet didn’t win any of his three starts (including last Thursday’s 8-3 embarrassing loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets) and Crawford was pulled in as an emergency goalie from Rockford in the loss against the Ducks on March 17th. All things considered, Niemi’s performance hasn’t been awful. Out of the three games he lost, two were in overtime, so the team still got a couple of points to show for it. His potential is endless if he can get the right oomph behind him.
No one can say it’s entirely a goalie problem. There’s a certain ebb and flow that seems disrupted. Injuries to key players can’t help. Seabrook’s still recovering from his concussion and not at full-strength, and no Brian Campbell means an unwanted weakness on defense. Not to mention there seems to be an issue with passing – it’s just sloppy right now, disconnected.
Whatever is causing the current lack of W’s needs to be fixed now. The playoffs are just around the corner and these guys have worked too hard all season to let the bottom fall out at this critical moment. Maybe a little quality practice time at Johnny’s West and a hard look at the tapes will help. Either way, Blackhawks fans are not losing faith. They’re saying that the Hawks need to use this time (and their clinched playoff spot) to work out the kinks. And they’re somewhat excited about the slight drop in ticket price. I can’t blame them.