Can the Blackhawks still win, or will tonight be Coyote ugly?
A few nights ago in Dallas, the Blackhawks took their worst loss of the season, a 5-0 embarrassing shutout.
The loss in and of itself wasn't embarrassing; no team will have a perfect season. No -- this game was horrific. It was only the second time the Hawks were shut out this season, in fact - but at least in their 3-0 shutout to Vancouver, it wasn't due to lack of effort, mainly a hot goalie.
The Dallas loss was simply a huge mess, like watching an ECHL team attempt to keep up with an NHL one. Defensemen repeatedly got caught up-ice, leaving Stars clear for breakaways. Corey Crawford got hung out to dry, and was pulled in favor of Marty Turco, who probably should have been started anyway, to give the rookie netminder a break.
When the only guys who come off the ice after 60 minutes with a 0 or better +/- are your fourth-liners, then you've really had a bad day. Ryan Johnson, 4th line center, and Viktor Stalberg, 4th line winger, were those two guys. Johnson was the only one who looked like he had his head in the game the entire time.
The team - from captain Jonathan Toews on down - acknowledged what a horrible effort it was. Toews said the team "crapped the bed".
Tonight, they face off in Phoenix against the Coyotes, who are on a roll - and who are also directly competing against them for one of the remaining playoff berths in the West.
The Hawks need to stick to simple, clean hockey. They have to be willing to crash the net, get dirty, play hard. If they sit on their heels tonight, they might as well start booking tee times as soon as they come off the ice. They've been in a hole much of the season, and have less than a dozen games left to earn those points they so nicely giftwrapped for other teams during the first half of the season.