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When Good Teams Go Bad: Blue Jackets 4 @ Blackhawks 2 Game Recap

March 28, 2010

A couple of nights ago, the Columbus Blue Jackets gave the Hawks a ball-stomping the likes of which we haven’t really seen all season long, except for that 12-minute catastrophe against Calgary earlier this year. Tonight, instead of retaliating and playing with the fire of a wounded animal (or something–hey, Keith Sr’s the motivational speech expert, not me), the Hawks instead rolled over and played dead.

While it may have seemed that the Blackhawks came out playing with some sort of jump–even scoring the first goal (though really that should be credited to Vermette’s stellar puck-clearing skillz)–their play plateaued and remained pretty flat for the first period. Andy Murray was quick to tie it up before the period was over, and by the time second period rolled around, the Blue Jackets scored twice more. It was as though the desperation for getting one’s act together in order to ensure a long post-season run manifested, instead, in the team that had no hope of even making the playoffs any longer.

There was a little bit of a momentum change towards the end of the third period, when Patrick Sharp scored a shorthanded goal during Kane’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but there were less than 4 minutes left and it was too little, too late. The Hawks had failed to keep their foot on the pedal long enough to overcome Columbus, who scored an empty netter to seal the deal with 7 seconds left in the game. The Hawks hopefully get sent home to their rooms without supper tonight, or something.

Notes:

  • What’s frustrating with watching this team lose like this is that we’re all well aware of what they can do if they’re engaging, but lately they just haven’t been there. It isn’t a skill problem or a talent problem, and to be honest I don’t really believe it’s an injury problem–good teams find ways, and sometimes that includes finding the will. The Blackhawks are looking pretty disengaged and uninterested.
  • The lines have almost been jumbled up so much I’m fairly certain at points in time Eddie O was behind the bench and Quenneville was calling the game. Maybe. Tonight started with Toews-Kane-Sharp, Bolland-Hossa-Ladd, Madden-Versteeg-Brouwer, and Kopecky-Burish-Eager with Keith-Sopel, Seabrook-Hjalmarsson, Hendry-Byfuglien (Yeah, they broke up Seabrook and Keith–it’s actually enough to headline a Tribune article, wtf). By the time the third period came around Madden was centering Versteeg and Kane (oh great, because those two wouldn’t try weaving through 4 people at once), Toews had Sharp and Eager on his wings, and Brouwer found himself on the fourth line with Burish and Kopecky. Needless to say, I’m not sure it worked, and I don’t think it’s the answer to the problem either.
  • Even the power play units got jumbled up after the first two periods, but it made no difference. After spending a good part of the season in the top ten, the Blackhawks are now tied for 15th among the league with a power play conversion rate of 18.4%. Not gonna lie, I was watching practice yesterday and if both power play units could only score once on PK units that consisted mostly of 4th-liners and Madden, they’re not going to convert most nights.
  • You know what would be funny? If I started rooting for Detroit to go up to 6th seed so they can face the Canucks in the first round, and then end up in the 3rd seed at the end of the season and face Detroit in the first round anyway. That would make me laugh pretty hard.
  • I’ll probably also laugh pretty hard if Nashville takes over Central. I mean sure, they’re 7 points behind us and it’s probably not going to happen but yeah, that’s the kind of thinking that gets you fucked over 8-3 and 4-2 by a non-playoff team, isn’t it?
  • PS: Get back off the ledge. It’s okay. Really. It will either sort itself out, or it won’t, and then we can go back to the goalie debates. Because you know somehow, this is still their fault. Especially Huet’s, that damn French bastard! Or something.
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