Tonight the Blackhawks suffered their first regulation loss of the season, and a chance to gain a 5 point lead in the standings on their main rival, falling 3-2 to the Detroit Red Wings. The Hawks dominated for 40 or 60 minutes, and played even the other 20. The difference was the goaltending...again.
Early in the first, the Hawks were skating circles around the Red Wings, and at one point had a 7-0 shot advantage. Wing's goalie Chris Osgood stood tall and kept his team in the game. The Hawks took the lead 1-0 on a Patrick Sharp goal in the 2nd period, but couldn't hold the lead when the Wings scored 3 goals in the span of 8 minutes.
Cristobal Huet was once again unable to make the big saves when it mattered.
Huet can only be directly blamed for one goal, Kris Draper's shot that made it 2-1 Wings, but it was the difference in the game. Huet dropped to his knees before Draper even had control of the puck, giving him a gaping hole over the shoulder. Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk called him out for the move after it happened.
Huet's average play in his two starts is alarming. Any NHL caliber goalie can make routine saves. To win consistently...to win the CUP...you need your goalie to steal victories. Osgood did that tonight for the Red Wings, and Tomas Vokoun did it in game one for the Florida Panthers.
It will be interesting to who Joel Quenneville decides to go with in the home opener Saturday against the Avalanche. He looked very unhappy and unsatisfied on the bench. Will Antti Niemi get a chance to play? We'll find out Saturday.
Jay Zawaski is the Executive Producer of the Danny Mac Show (M-F 9am-1pm) on WSCR, 670 the Score.