I've seen overreactions in my life, but nothing compares to what I've seen since the Blackhawks dropped a regular season, Sunday night game in November to the Vancouver Canucks.
"Has Q lost his touch?"
"The Hawks are gutless."
"The team looks like they've quit."
"The penalty kill sucks."
"This team won't win a thing."
Those are all quotes that I've seen on Twitter, message boards, and the various interwebs in the last 12 hours.
Nothing like a rivalry to bring out the panic in a fan base.
There are a few FACTS we need to look at. First off, the Blackhawks are in 2nd place in the Western Conference. That's second best for those who can't read a standings sheet. Secondly, the penalty kill had been outstanding, before surrendering five powerplay goals last night. There's really no reason to believe the penalty kill won't return to the form it had shown before last night's disaster.
The power play, on the other hand, is worth worrying about. It's been absolutely awful all season. A lot of people are talking about Brian Campbell's departure as if that's the total answer to the power play struggles. No doubt, Campbell is a top notch offensive defenseman, but I hesitate to put ALL of the blame on the absence of one player.
The Hawks are simply too cute when on the man advantage. Time after time after time, the Hawks make (at least) one too many passes, or balk at an open shooting lane. If Daniel Carcillo or Andrew Brunette aren't on the ice, there is ZERO net presence. A team with this much talent should not be struggling this mightily to score.
Teams with successful power plays make it look easy. Move the puck quickly and accurately, and put the puck on net when the shot is there. The concept is simple. As soon as the Hawks simplify, things will get better. Maybe it's time to take some of the elite players off the power play, and put the guys who will dumb it down out there. Something needs to change...and the sooner the better.
Sorry for the digression...back to last night.
From the drop of the puck...things seemed off, and not just because Vancouver was dominating and got out to an early lead. The Hawks weren't playing their game. Yes, they added physical "sandpaper" type players in the offseason, but the Hawks seemed far too obsessed with being physical and beating up the Canucks. They didn't play their game. Even Patrick Kane got a roughing call. The Blackhawks were the team that unraveled. The Blackhawks were the team that collapsed. The Blackhawks...were the CANUCKS!!!
Listen, it was bad. It was awful. I'd never been so glad that my cable went out, so I only had to HEAR this disaster, but it's not time to panic. The Hawks are the strongest team in the Western Conference, and that's without a functional power play.
It will be ok.