It might be easiest to just count the ways this went wrong before even getting started. The Blackhawks didn't have Corey Crawford, Artem Anisimov or Brent Seabrook. Then early in the action, Duncan Keith committed a brutal match penalty that removed him from the game, leaving Chicago with five defensemen, a backup goalie and a long night ahead of them.
So yeah, the Hawks lost to the Minnesota Wild, 4-1, on Tuesday. It's hard to imagine another result when you describe the above circumstances. Maybe Chicago teams in the past would've overcome these kinds of problems -- maybe not -- but it's getting harder at times to believe that this is the same Hawks team we've watched in recent years. A chance for a big win against Minnesota quickly turned into an ugly affair we'd rather forget.
This wouldn't be so worrisome, except the game started after word that Crawford is dealing with a head-related injury and then saw the Hawks' best defenseman smack an opponent in the face with his stick. Most likely, Keith will be suspended for hitting Charlie Coyle. However, much more concern should be turned Crawford's way right now. A Chicago team without its star goaltender -- and yes, he's a star, this conversation is over -- would hurt way more than missing Keith for some time, especially if the suspension doesn't extend into the playoffs at all.
The only good news Tuesday came from Marian Hossa, who scored No. 499 on a shorthanded tally during the Wild's five-minute power play as a result of Keith's infraction. Minnesota would rebound from there with three unanswered goals, including an empty-netter, to put away the game. It wasn't surprising the team lost control once it didn't have Keith, Seabrook, Crawford or Anisimov, but that doesn't make the result feel any better just a couple weeks before the start of the postseason.
Y'know what, this recap has become such a bummer that I'm going to stop to list the delicious beers I drank tonight. Pipeworks Brewing's Lizard King, you are truly a beer worthy of our reptile overlords. Revolution Brewing's Galaxy Hero, you are the hero this galaxy deserves. Ballast Point's Pineapple Sculpin, you were a worthy, fruity friend. (Yes, I like IPAs, jeez, don't yell at me.)
Anyway! The Blues and Stars both won Tuesday, which puts the Hawks six points back of the top two spots in the Central Division. It's time to move on from that dream and simply hope that the team is full strength by the time the playoffs begin.
Also, there's not a ton of defending what happened with Keith, and it's likely he'll be suspended beyond the team's game Friday against Winnipeg. The real hope, I suppose, is that he'll get some rest before the playoffs. However, you'd prefer that nobody be swinging their sticks around like that. It was a reckless, dangerous play by the defenseman that deserved to be punished.
There's still time to settle things down before the playoffs, but this wasn't what we hoped for coming off back-to-back wins in Canada. Minnesota completed its season sweep of Chicago and Keith is likely (and deservedly) suspended for a bit. At least most of these guys should be back for the playoffs.