Red Wings make statement in win at the United Center

The Detroit Red Wings are still scary, despite being in 8th place in the Western Conference standings. 

They proved that this afternoon, beating the Blackhawks at the United Center, 5-4. 
The 2nd period was eerily reminiscent of old Hawks-Wings games. I expected let downs like that when our best answer for their top line was Kyle Calder and Tyler Arnason, but not now. A 5-goal period simply can't happen, especially when the defense is statistically the best in hockey. That brings me to the goaltending....
I'm not really sure what to say or think anymore about Cristobal Huet. Yes, the entire team fell apart after Kane's disallowed goal (more on that later), and yes the defense was brutal, but Huet simply can't let in 4 goals in that short of a time period.
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Cristobal Huet saw his save percentage dip below .900 in Sunday's loss to Detroit.

Huet looked terrific in the 1st period. He looked confident, he was quick post to post, and was challenging shooters. After the 2 quick goals in the 2nd, things changed. His posture looked different, he was fighting pucks off, and was back in his crease. This happens very often for Huet when things begin spiraling out of control.
Defensive breakdowns are going to happen. There will be turnovers and odd man rushes in the playoffs. It can't be a valid excuse for Huet to give up goals in bunches every single time. 
Huet's save percentage is officially below .900. It's been lingering right around there all season, and his 4 goals against on 17 shots dipped him below the line today. That statistic puts him 41st in the NHL among goaltenders. That means his save percentage is worse than every other starter in the league, along with 11 back-ups. Any way you slice it, that is unacceptable. Especially when the line-up in front of you is the deepest in hockey.
I've gotta expect Joel Quenneville to give Antti Niemi another shot.  If the biggest concern with Niemi is that "he is a rookie", and therefore can't handle the load in the playoffs, that isn't a good enough reason anymore. We have seen time and time again that Huet will lose leads, let in soft goals, and allow his confidence to be destroyed by circumstances outside of his control. How is that any different from an inexperienced rookie?
Niemi has better raw goaltending ability than Huet. He is quicker, has a slightly better glove, and usually makes key saves for his team. All things considered, I believe Huet's confidence is shattered beyond repair. In fact, I thought it was after the Dallas game in October when he gave up the dump-in goal from center ice. 
Either way, the goaltending situation is a disaster that upper management has brought upon themselves. Former GM Dale Tallon signed Huet to a big deal in 2008, presumably because he thought Nikolai Khabibulin would be on his way out. Things changed, Huet had to split time with Khabibulin, and eventually watched most of the playoffs from the bench. Huet's career in Chicago started off awkwardly, and he has never been able to fully rebound. 
The external circumstances could be to blame for Huet's failures. Or maybe...just maybe.....Cristobal Huet isn't very good.
The officiating today was the worst it has been all season long. Patrick Kane scored a goal in the 2nd period that would have put the Hawks up 3-0, but Dustin Byfuglien was called for goaltender interference and the goal was waived off.  It is highly doubtful that Detroit would have scored 5 unanswered goals had the Hawks been up 3-0.
Marian Hossa was taken down late in the 3rd, and nothing was called. A penalty would have sent the Hawks on a 6 on 4 with a chance to tie the game. 
Calls like these, while uncontrollable, can still change the outcome of a hockey game. At the very least, the NHL needs to work on becoming more consistent so the players know what type of game they are playing.
Sunday afternoon was very worrisome for Hawks fans. The goaltending situation didn't get any better, as Quenneville now faces as tough a decision as he has all season long.  The team's recent inability to play a full 60 minutes is a concern as well. 
The Blackhawks are one of the best and deepest team in hockey, but if they want to make a run at a Stanley Cup, they will need a better effort in the postseason. The first step toward reaching that point as a team would be if one of these goalies stepped up and said "I'm the guy." Will one of them do that before mid-April? We all better hope so, for the sake of the Hawks as well as our mental health.

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  • John,

    I do agree with many points of your blog, hoewver I still don't see Niemi as a strong goalie. I can't even call him the lesser of two evils. He has been just as inconsistent as Huet in a few games, and has also been untested in many more. Do we need to give him a shot? Of course, there is no other option. I know that it would have been hard to pull the trigger on a goalie, but I think that we really need to take a look at other options out there. We will see what the waiver wire has to offer i guess.

  • Thank you for the comment.

    I agree that Niemi is hardly the "obvious" option. I just think that he is better fundamentally. Niemi has been caught out of position or with a weak glove less times than Huet this season. Inconsistent, unproven, and shaky? Sure. But the way I see it, so is Huet. You might as well give him a shot.

    And unfortunately our only shot at a goalie outside the organization came and went this past Wednesday. It's gonna have to be one of these two.

  • Nope.
    Lack of scoring is the major factor here.
    We've bested the Wings so far this season and are capable of netting more goals than any other team in the league.
    Do the math, jackass. Less goals = loss.

  • In reply to GoonSquad:

    You're not going to get 4-5 goals every game which is why your goalies need to make some saves.

    When the Hawks beat the Wings in Detroit in January, Niemi surrendered 3 goals but made numerous big saves on tough chances, keeping his team in the game.

    The sad part about today's game is that Detroit only had about 3 or 4 good chances all day.

  • In reply to GoonSquad:

    Goon Squad- You are the kind of know-nothing Hawkie Fan I have had to deal with for the ten years I've lived in Chicago!

    First of all, welcome back to hockey... I know you have been gone for a while but now that the Hawks have improved, you are right back on the bandwagon rooting for them as if you hadnt missed the last 15 seasons- Congrats on your fair weathering support! (dont worry, I dont think anyone noticed you were gone...they were too!)

    Secondly- Here is how I know you are clueless about the game or what it will take for the Hawks to EVER capture Lord Stanley's Cup: If you think that by being a high scoring team regular season means something... and that allowing 4-5 goals is acceptable because you can score 6... you are in for a rude awakening come second season time. Understandably you wouldnt know that (no matter what team has the most fire power) GOALS DRY UP IN THE PLAYOFFS! You guys SHOULD have serious concerns about the siv's you have in net- The Hawks wont make it out of the first round with those guys!

    The Wings were EXACTLY like this Hawks team in 1994 when we lost first round to San Jose- You know why? Because we had a rookie in net (Osgood) for game seven because our regular season goalie (Bob Essensa) was JUNK!! Going into game seven some of our bandwagoners at that time were as dumb about this as you are today...They said things like "Why are we losing?? We scored so much during the regular season!?!? Whats going on???" I knew we didnt have a legit shot that year. I could understand it as a hockey fan and didnt put the blinders on because a whole bunch of people all of a sudden started going to the games-

    Less goals=Loss..... Hahaha! Like a John Madden quote "The team with more points on the score board at the end of the game.... will likely be the winner!" Hahaha! Talk about JACKASS!

    So just know-- I will be laughing to myself as the Hawks take the early exit and idiot Hawkies like yourself will be saying the same things! What happened???

  • In reply to matto:

    How many times can a team win the presidents cup and then take a first round exit. I can only remember two teams doing it. Yeah Detroit, you still suck.

  • In reply to blackhawkboy:

    Thats the other thing.. I know you guys didnt have anything to cheer about for some time and so you had to chant "Detroit Sucks" at your home games. (even when they arent eveen playing the Wings-which I think is weird)

    First- We find it a compliment that your jealousy rings through the rafters of the UC on a nightly basis- "Detroit Sucks, Detroit Sucks!" to which I respond "We win Cups, We win Cups!"

    Second and more importantly- Perhaps you all should focus your attention on ROOTING FOR YOUR TEAM with chants that might motivate them to play through a tough period!

    Blackhawk fans suck slightly worse than the actual team! Get it together people!

    PS- Did you know: The only team to have won the Presidents' Trophy more than twice is the Detroit Red Wings, with six!

    LETS GO RED WINGS!! LETS GO RED WINGS!!

  • In reply to blackhawkboy:

    OneGirl-11Cups, who do we thank that we got you outta Chi-Town?
    BTW, how do you get a goalie to become a playoff contender if you don't play him in the playoffs?
    Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. The Wings choked last year and just couldn't handle the little bitches from the Burgh.
    Sucks, huh?
    What were the issues again?
    Goaltending? Lack of scoring? Not enough depth? Too old?
    C'mon answer man, I wanna hear it.

  • In reply to GoonSquad:

    Happy too answer-

    You are correct- A goalie only becomes a "playoff contender" by PLAYING IN THE PLAYOFFS! But once again, you are being short sighted- Huey HAS HAD playoff experience!!enough in fact that he should be able to show that he is ready to handle it- Has he? Has he shown that to you at all this season? Did you ever watch him play in Montreal/Washington or even last year in the playoffs against the Wings? I think those that have/did, notice a lack of improvement in several key areas. Everyone knows that anything can happen in the playoffs- but with regards to Huet... I think we have seen the best he can do and it isnt enough to help a team win a playoff series.

    Next-I hardly felt that the Wings choked in last years playoffs- We had a long playoff road with two 7 game series and had the playoff grind fatigue and injury- (thank you Hawks for only making our series 5 games by the way!) After 7 games against ANA and then 5 with the Hawks, Buttman set up a one day rest with BACK-TO-BACK Stanley Cup games scheduled consecutively for the first time in HISTORY! (but those are just the facts) The real story is this: The Staley Cup has NEVER gone to the wrong team! The Pittsburgh Pens deserved the Cup and had to go through the best to do it- AND on the road- I was in attendance and (although disappointed) applauded Mario's team and give respect to their organization for their success. They were the better team in 2009.

    So to answer your other questions- Goaltending? Osgood was the REASON we made it back to the finals and into game seven- Had we won that game, he would have been the Conn Smyth winner HANDS DOWN! (I realize this is your first year watching hockey and probably missed that performance- but you can youtube it or... ASK ANYONE!) Osgood had ridiculous numbers and was #1 and 2 in GAA and Save % throughout!

    Lack of scoring? This was my point to you earlier- A point that really shows how long you have been watching this sport (or I should say how LITTLE you know about the game) EVERY TEAM has a "lack of scoring" issue in the playoffs! GOALS DRY UP as it is ONLY the best goalies playing against best goalies!! The GAA should be 2 or less and their save % should be .930 or better- Huet has posted 6 wins in 16 playoff games! Horrible! He allowed 44 goals with a 2.73 GAA and .913 SV%- Thats 16 games.. enough to measure as four series full playoff series- Yet he has never won one! (a series that is) And its because he doesnt "dry up the goals" like the goalie across the ice from him- You CANT let up 3 goals a game in the playoffs, WITH YOUR PLAN to just score 4 and 5 goals, in effort to win! IT DOESNT WORK THAT WAY! There arent any goalies in the second round that allow 3 goals a game- You might get lucky in the Quarter Finals though- So keep trying that ridiculous plan and see how far it goes!

    Not enough depth? Laughable! The Red Wings werent deep enough??? Are you on crack?? (does any realistic Hawk fan want to straighten this idiot out on this point?) Wow! Not deep enough and the Red Wings has not been said in decades! Haha!

    Too old? This one is something that everyone likes to throw at the Wings- If you think so, be my guest! I think the Wings skated with all of them and when faced with a tougher challenge of starting the Finals on one day rest and then into BACK-TO-BACK games Finals games.... WE WON THEM BOTH! Pittsburgh had a three day rest, had "younger players" and WE were the ones with the jump! So I will just point to back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals apperances with virtually the exact same team both years and rest my case!

    Seriously- You should really talk to some people that actually know what they are talking about before posting such ridiculousness- It just highlights your lack of knowledge of the games history- about how its played and what it takes to have a winner!

  • In reply to matto:

    Uh oh!
    Are you gonna fly off about the 'Great Conspiracy Theory' and shit now?
    "The Pittsburgh Pens deserved the Cup"?
    They deserved it?
    No ma'am.
    The EARNED it!
    Pull those dusty panties outta your cunt and settle down before you stroke out!
    So, let me get this straight;
    The Hawks higher standings this season has nothing at all to do with their goaltending? Right?
    And Ozzy is NOT to blame for the Wings loss? Right again?
    He in fact deserves ALL of the credit, not those who scored more goals than the opposition?
    It all has to do with the new schedule and fatigue?
    WOW!
    38 years on this planet and I learned something from a pathetic loser who cries like a fuckin Pens fan...

  • In reply to GoonSquad:

    Again.. your stupidity is amazing and sucking out my insides harder than your mother did this afternoon! (be sure not to kiss her goodnight- there was something on her chin when she left!)

    I guess I would have hoped that you at least went to school in your "38 years on this planet" and had actually READ my last entry! Whether you wanna debate whether or not the Pens EARNED or DESERVED the Cup last year- I would RE-SUBMIT- The Cup has always gone to the rightful team and the Pittsburgh Pens (REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCE) were .... as I said.... THE BETTER TEAM in 2009! I dont know how else to make that clearer... The Wings were second best! We won the year before but didnt have that last game in us to pull of.... a VERY TOUGH feat... back-to-back championships!! So do you really want to debate that? How we went to the last two Finals and won one of two and played it to 7 last year?? I guess you are retarded and I appluad you use of the internet!!

    NEXT- When did I ever say the Hawks standing this year had nothing to do with their goaltending? PLEASE QUOTE ME! I have only said that the goaltending you got all year wont win you a Cup! (try reading this stuff first and then post your babbling rant..)

    Ozzy wasnt to blame for the Wings loss. You are correct. There were two give aways that allowed a Pens player to be 0 on one with Ozzy deep in our zone and EVERYONE knows... the advantage goes to the shooter! (you dont because you dont know anything about the game or your team so just take it from me and the rest of those that live in reality!)

    The new schedule comment pointed out that (according to you- AGE wasnt a factor) the only reason I mentioned that (Finals games back to back) was to illustrate that WE WERE NOT too old and that with the "new schedule" WE WON BOTH GAMES!! GOD you are so dumb!!!!! READ IT!!!

    I did say fatigue was a factor and thats no excuse... as I said... it was a FACT- We had TWO 7 game series that year and that is enough to wear down ANY team! Thats why its important to take care of a team like Chicago in a sweep or 5 when pursuing a Cup and following a 7 game battle- Its just common sense!

    So in the end- I guess in 38 years.. you really didnt learn ANYTHING- If you learned to read first before writing your responses.. maybe you would seem like such a fuck-nut!

    Im wondering when the self respecting Hawk fans are gonna tell you to shut up- because you are embarrassing them!!!!

    Ill be at the 4/11 game- Would love to bump into you!

  • In reply to matto:

    Look for the big nigger in the # 4 Wolves jersey that says Goon Squad on it.
    I'll be sitting right next to my boy Tab Bamford in Section 302, row 2, where I can be found 97.3% of the time.
    I'll be sure to have some paramedics on stand-by to remove my size 13 from your cunt at the 1st intermission.
    Tell momma not to wait for you!

  • In reply to blackhawkboy:

    Yeah.
    This douchetard talks a bunch of shit when Huet's record is better than Howards.
    I guess we all know who'll be carrying the Wanks to the golf course this summer.
    OneGirl-11Cups really knows her shit, doesn't she?

  • In reply to matto:

    Hey blackhawkboy, the Hawks were one of them. 1990-91. Won the Pres trophy and got whipped by the Minnesota North Stars in 6 games in round one. Thanks for bringing back horrible memories!

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