In their last 4 games, the Hawks have a 1-3 record, and have blown leads in 3 of them.
Last Sunday, the Hawks had a 2-0 lead over the Detroit Red Wings, until the 2nd period where they allowed five (5!) goals in 15:45.
Yesterday, the Hawks had a 2-1 lead over the Philadelphia Flyers with 2:01 to play in the game. They lost 3-2.
Today, the Hawks had an impressive 3-0 lead over the Washington Capitals, until they fell apart in the 3rd, allowing 3 goals in 2:16. They would eventually lose in overtime.
Yes, we are all aware that goaltending has been a problem this year. In fact, the loss to the Wings was mainly because of weak goaltending. However, Saturday's and Sunday's losses can NOT be blamed on Huet or Niemi. Huet played very well Saturday, making the saves required, while Antti Niemi played outstandingly for the entire contest vs the Caps.
So what's to blame? A disturbing trend has arisen lately. The Hawks defense, no matter who is out there, looks to be out of gas. It's hard to imagine that when 5 of your top 7 defensemen hadn't played in close to a month with the Olympic break. Well, when your top 2 defensemen play 1/3 of the game, it can really look obvious.
Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have been making mistakes they typically don't make.
Keith hasn't been too bad, but now and again, there's a turnover in the defensive end leading to a good scoring chance against. That's something we haven't seen Keith do in 2 seasons. let alone a string of games.
Seabrook has REALLY been fighting it lately. Even before the break, his confidence on reading defensive plays has looked off. When he's playing with confidence, he's one of the leagues top defensemen. He's looked indecisive and unsure on a lot of plays.
Perhaps the most shocking number is the tandem's plus minus rating. Over their last 6 games, they are a combined -7. To put that in perspective, for the season, they are a combined +39. After today's loss, Duncan Keith told the media, "I don't know how we will regroup."
Joel Quenneville has done an outstanding job all year reading his team, and making changes at the right times. With 14 games left, it may be time to lessen the work load on Keith and Seabrook. Both are playing well over 20:00 a game. If he could somehow scale their icetime back a little bit, it could pay dividends in the playoffs.
INJURY NEWS: Brian Campbell left the game with what looked like a rib or shoulder injury after Alex Ovechkin boarded him in the first period. Campbell fell into the boards awkwardly, and didn't return. Coach Q said he'd be, "out for a bit." He won't make the upcoming road trip.
Marian Hossa and Kim Johnsson missed the game with what the Hawks are calling, "Upper body injures." Rumors were floating around the United Center that Marian Hossa might be out for the season, but Coach Q said that both he and Johnsson are day to day, and will be making the road trip.
It looks like for the first time this season, the Hawks depth and mettle will be tested. The chips are down right now. Key players are hurt, they're on a losing streak, and the goalies are shaky. They'll only rise above it if they are truly elite.
Filed under: Antti Niemi, Blackhawks, brent seabrook, Chicago Sports, Cristobal Huet, danny mac show, duncan keith, goaltending, hockey, jonathan toews, kim johnsson, marian hossa, nbc, NHL, nhl trade deadline, Nick Boynton, sports, wscr
Tags: alex ovechkin, antti niemi, blackhawks, chicago blackhawks, cristobal huet, danny mac show, duncan keith, goaltending, hockey, jonathan toews, kim johnsson, marian hossa, nbc, NHL, nhl trade deadline, nick boynton, Sports, washington capitals, wscr