The Blackhawks losses in Calgary and Edmonton were ugly, and may have exposed a disturbing trend.
Look at the scores from the last five regulation losses for the Blackhawks:
- 9-2 @ Edmonton
- 5-2 @ Calgary
- 3-0 @ St. Louis
- 6-2 vs Vancouver
- 3-0 @ Carolina
Let’s look a little deeper into these five losses.
- Edmonton: had allowed 20 goals in four straight losses before blowing out the Hawks.
- Calgary: had lost three of four before hammering the Hawks.
- St. Louis: had lost three of four before shutting out the Hawks.
- Vancouver: had lost two in a row and four of six before destroying the Hawks.
- Carolina: had lost three in a row and six of their first nine games before shutting out the Hawks.
What do we see in each of these five losses? The Blackhawks were playing a team that came in struggling, and came out completely flat.
Last year, the Blackhawks struggled to find consistency from the get-go, and lost too many games they should have won. But there was an easy and logical excuse: half of the Cup roster was gone and they were trying to establish the roles of everyone on the roster.
This year, the Hawks have a handful of new players just like they did last year. But they aren’t wandering around in the middle of the pack trying to find themselves. So far in 2011-12, the Hawks have been one of, if not the best team in the NHL. Despite their two blowout losses in Calgary and Edmonton, their 27 points are still tied for the most in the NHL.
What is disturbing about these Blackhawks is they’re clearly reading their news clips and checking out the standings before they hit the ice every night. They have shown that, when they want to, they can dominate a very good team. We need look no further than the win in Vancouver for evidence of that.
But it doesn’t matter how strong the first seven weeks have been if the Hawks don’t start handling their business every night. Allowing a struggling team to take advantage of them isn’t what a championship team does, and these Hawks have clearly had Cup aspirations since they opened training camp.