Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wow... what was THAT mess?

Was it a full moon or something tonight, with all the hot teams getting their butts handed to them by the guys at the bottom of their divisions?

If the Blackhawks weren't wearing the team jerseys, I wouldn't have known that was even the same team out there as the one that played on Tuesday night. Because, wow - that was a painful experience to watch, so I can only imagine what it was like to be out on the ice.

I was busy venting in texts in frustration, so I didn't even notice that Coach Q briefly swapped in Niemi near the end of the second, but I will admit to being surprised that Huet was back in goal for the third. My guess would be that Quenneville wanted Huet to shake off the second period, get his head re-focused, and try to keep the third period clean, but sadly, that didn't work. I wasn't home early enough to watch the full game - 6 p.m. CT start times are usually hard for me to catch the first period - but I saw the tail end of the 2nd and all of the 3rd period. I can only describe Huet's play as "inattentive", as he failed to follow through on a few of his plays, seemingly caught by surprise on rebound plays.

Maybe Huet isn't fully recovered from having the flu; or maybe it was just an off night; or maybe it was simply he hasn't started in a game in several days. A bit of everything, perhaps. Post-game, Coach Q again dodged the question about who his primary goalie would be for the playoffs, stating that both goalies needed the confidence from playing out the rest of the season.

But it would be hard to deny the numbers or the last several games, or the overall stats for both goalies this season.

What was going on across the rest of the ice wasn't much better. The defense wasn't as sharp as they've been the last few games, there wasn't the same intensity that there is in the more "challenging" match-ups, and there just wasn't the tightness we've seen in games like Tuesday's win against Phoenix. After already beating the Blue Jackets a few times this season, it's disappointing to have Columbus wipe the floor with the Hawks this late - and still another game to go against them on Sunday. (Mind you, I'm not saying the Blackhawks should've been the ones wiping the floor with the other team, but ... tonight's game was uncharacteristically lopsided.)

That was without a doubt the worst game of the season - even worse than the Minnesota Wild game on January 9th when the score was 5-1 and the Wild surged back to win 5-6 in SO. As Coach Q said in the post-game interview: "It was a terrible across the board. Right from the first shift to the end of the game there's nothing we can be excited about. We'll discount it and throw it in the garbage can." So hopefully they'll shake it off, kick the Blue Jackets' butts on Sunday, and pull together for the final run to the playoffs.

* * *

Speaking of the playoffs, my bad - I thought that they clinched their playoff berth with the win over Phoenix on Tuesday; but turns out it was clinched by Calgary's loss to the NY Islanders tonight.

It's very exciting to be in the playoffs again, and of course, I would love to see the Cup come to Chicago. It's been far, far too long.

But if the Hawks play out the rest of the season the way it's gone since the Olympics, we may have to wait another year to see Lord Stanley's prize gleaming beneath the lights of the United Center.

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