There's something weird about getting upset because of a mid-February hockey game. You know the playoffs are months away and things can be sorted out, yet here we are wondering what the heck is going on with the Chicago Blackhawks.
A 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night was just the team's latest misstep, and it was a particularly bad one. The first 40-plus minutes of the game weren't terrible, particularly in the early going when the team was consistently keeping possession in the offensive zone.
The wheels completely came off in that third period, however, and it's getting harder to brush off these new year struggles to some midseason lethargy. At a certain point, you have to wonder just how good this team is, and while I'm not suggesting anyone get off the bandwagon yet, this was as discouraging a loss as we've seen in a while.
The first three goals weren't great, but Corey Crawford's gaffe in the third period was a sign of the team giving up. I know it's the time of the year when the team takes the foot of the pedal, but seriously:
That's not an NHL goal. That should not happen to a team with Stanley Cup aspirations.
And looking at the captain's postgame reactions, it seems like they're aware of how absurd this is all getting:
Jonathan Toews on the emotions after that loss: "I don’t think there’s a whole lot of emotion, judging by the way we played." #Blackhawks— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) February 21, 2015
Toews said Avs are desperate. "We’re in that position, too. We’ve got to think much the same. I don’t know why we’re so comfortable."— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) February 21, 2015
Agreed, cap. The 'Hawks are closer to missing the playoffs than catching up with Nashville.
We've reached the point of straight up mixed emotions as a Chicago hockey fan. Yes, the team's advanced stats are still pretty strong, and the core of a championship team remains intact. But at the fringes of this roster, there are very genuine concerns, and after falling short a year ago, it's hard to say this team should fare any better.
Could the team regain its swagger going forward? Absolutely. Could the team win a Cup even if it doesn't significantly improve? That's harder to say. The bandwagon may not be losing too many passengers right now, but it's getting harder to stay excited about the team's prospects this spring.
Deep breaths and all, but man, they gotta get this figured out soon.