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Is it time to hit the panic button yet? Caps 4 @ Hawks 3 (OT) game recap

March 14, 2010

Well. That capped off a shitty weekend. The Blackhawks put themselves up 3-0 at the end of 2 periods and by the time the buzzer sounded to signal the end of the 3rd, it was a tied game. It ended in overtime but against the Blackhawks for the first time this season, with Nicklas Backstrom scoring the winning goal for the Capitals.

Seems every time the Blackhawks have a good start they step off the pedal and allow the other team to catch up and it’s bitten them in the ass every time. Whether it helps light a fire under their asses or not remains to be seen, but how many games will it take for them to figure out that they can’t just sit on a lead anymore? This has been plaguing them since Minnesota, and truly, I’d like to think it’s just the same old stumbling block from last year that they’ve encountered before.

All we can take from this is that we know how the Blackhawks can win games and we know how they can lose them.

Notes:

  • Both Ovechkin and Campbell got taken out of the game early–Campbell with an injury after Ovechkin boarded him, and Ovi with the 5 minute boarding major and game misconduct. Correct call, and again this brings up the issue of dirty hits. Campbell won’t be playing for a while and will stay behind while the team goes on a road trip through the west coast, so we’re now down one important defenseman.
  • People will point out that the Hawks were down Hossa, Johnsson, and Campbell, and yet they managed to keep the lead for as long as they did. But the Capitals were down their best player as well, and while the Blackhawks might have ended up tired by the end of the game, playoffs are pretty much going to be the same scenario. Injuries will happen, and anyway, missing Hossa should be no excuse since the Hawks played without him for two months. The Capitals caught up because of silly penalties and there needs to be more discipline across the board.
  • By no means is this a signal that the end is nigh, but the Blackhawks’ reaction after the game is rather chilling. According to Brett Ballantini, beat reporter for CSN Chicago, “Door was closed to Blackhawks coaches’ office postgame, first time this season.” It was “as scary-dead as [he’s] seen a Blackhawks dressing room” and that Keith said he “didn’t know how [they] will regroup.”
  • Niemi played a good game today, just as Huet played a good game yesterday. The Blackhawks can trust their goaltending but it’s team effort that wins games, and that’s what’s been missing lately, at least for periods. The Hawks have been schizophrenic at times, coming out strong in certain periods and just letting up in others. I’m inclined to think this is fatigue setting in, but the road trip may help them rediscover their focus.
  • Toews seems to be going back to form lately, so that’s something to look forward to. The third line has remained fairly effective and was the only one not broken up with the scratches today. Seabrook has not improved his play but Keith has been able to bail him out at least, although playing 32 minutes of the game cannot possibly do him any good.
  • Fourteen games left in the season. Back in December you’d have Hawks fans saying they can’t wait until playoffs begin. Now, I wouldn’t be sure the answer stays the same. But that’s the fun of the game, isn’t it? We aren’t entitled to anything just because on paper it looks like we are. If there’s going to be a deep playoff run here the Blackhawks will have to fight and earn every inch of it. I’m not going to lie–not knowing what kind of team we’ll end up with when postseason starts is kind of exciting, in a potential-heart-attack-inducing sort of way.
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