Well, just like that, the Blackhawks incredible streak of consecutive games to start a season without a regulation loss is over. The Avalanche put it to bed with authority as they "edged" the Hawks 6-2.
The good news? I never have to type "steak of consecutive games to start a season without a regulation loss" again. The bad news? Well, there really isn't any, other than the two points left in Colorado.
The loss was coming eventually. I told friends and family that I saw it going one of two ways. Either the Hawks completely skate circles around the opponent, but lose 1-0 to an amazing goaltending performance or they get totally destroyed. Well, Friday night was the latter.
So what exactly happened?
Well, first of all, the Hawks looked, and likely were exhausted. Nine games in fourteen nights will take it out of anybody. I think even the Washington Generals could pull one off against the Harlem Globetrotters during a stretch like that. It's not an excuse...it's a reality. Exhaustion leads to lack of focus, leads to mental mistakes, leads to turnovers, leads to defensive zone time, leads to...well, you get the point. They couldn't win a draw. They couldn't make a save. They couldn't complete a pass. It was a perfect storm of crap.
Secondly, the Avalanche played and outstanding game. In their Wednesday loss to the Hawks, Colorado played a nearly perfect road game, but just came up short. Friday, they adjusted that style, and for one night, it was the perfect strategy. Patience and commitment to team defense was the approach Wednesday. Friday, they added an element of merciless physicality. Even Brandon Bollig was getting roughed up with open ice hits. "Tired" becomes "exhausted" when you're getting pushed around physically.
While one loss certainly isn't a reason to panic, here are a couple of things to keep your eye on in the coming games:
Corey Crawford - Crawford's 2011-12 season was marred by streaks of good followed by streaks of awful. He had trouble bouncing back after a bad start, and the losses would just pile up. Friday was Crawford's first "bad game" of the 2013 season, as he gave up four goals in two periods. His response next start will show just how much he's matured mentally.
Joel Quenneville's Lines - Q is known for his itchy line finger. When things go bad, Q hits "shuffle". Obviously, this season there has been no reason to mess around. With Patrick Sharp out for what could be a month, he was forced to mix things up a bit Friday. Whatever lines he settles on, he should do his best to keep them together for as long as he can. Develop chemistry and keep rolling along. Steve Montador doesn't need to bust the lineup just yet.
Don't jump, Hawk fans. Everything will be ok...I promise.
Thank you, as always, for reading. Please follow me on Twitter @jayzawaski670.