The Chicago Blackhawks are bad.
You can attribute it to any number of things. The defense is atrocious. The power play is miserable. They're not developing sustained possession in the offensive zone. You can talk about the effort, and perhaps even question the coaching staff. The bottom line is this: the Blackhawks, at this very moment, do not look like a team that will even escape a first round matchup in the playoffs.
That was evident yet again on Friday evening, as they were embarrassed on home ice by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Sure, the Blue Jackets aren't the slouches they used to be, and had they been healthy for the entire year, we might be talking about them as a playoff team out of the Eastern Conference. Yet, when you consider that the Blackhawks last four opponents have been non-playoff teams, and that they've only managed two points in those games, it'd beyond alarming.
As hard as it may be to believe, the Hawks actually held a lead in this game. Early in the opening period, Brandon Saad wristed a very nice shot past Sergei Bobrovsky for the early edge. From that point on, positive points about the performance of the Hawks didn't actually exist.
They gave up a breakaway to Ryan Johansen, which came on a combination of a terrible Marcus Kruger pass and inability to handle the puck on the part of Duncan Keith. Corey Crawford never had a chance. Cam Atkinson later deflected a goal past Crawford, and while Jonathan Toews was able to respond with a tip-in of his own, the Blue Jackets rattled off a couple more before the first period was even over. Kevin Connauton put Columbus up 3-2 before Atkinson added another on a breakaway while shorthanded for the 4-2 edge.
That spelled the end for Corey Crawford, with the only other goal being scored in the game coming off the stick of Atkinson, who completed the hat trick, with the net empty. The fact that so many throughout the United Center were cheering Crawford coming off the ice was almost as disturbing as the effort itself. The Hawks surrendered a pair of breakaways and committed numerous turnovers in their own end. You couldn't even expect someone like Carey Price to thrive or perform at a reasonable level with that type of nonsense happening in front of him.
The Blackhawks finished the night with a much higher Corsi figure (58-39) and more shots than the Blue Jackets, this was another game where the shot quality wasn't there, the effort didn't appear to be there, and the turnovers were far too high in quantity for the Hawks to be anything resembling a success.
Crawford will shoulder plenty of blame, and that's the unfortunate mentality of a large portion of the Hawks fanbase. Sure, he could've played moderately better, but it wouldn't have made a difference. This isn't on him. Nor was Philadelphia. There are serious issues with this team that they need to overcome if they even hope to survive the first round of the postseason. Patrick Kane ain't walking through that door. And even if the Hawks play to a point at which he does, he's not immediately going to fix the multitude of issues with this team.
The Hawks visit Winnipeg on Sunday night. That'll go well, given the enormous success they've had against the Jets this season (/sarcasm).
Randy Holt is a staff writer for Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.