The Blackhawks hammered the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night, honoring the memory of Chris Chelios by posting a decisive 4-1 victory.
Corey Crawford was awesome, keeping 29 of 30 shots out of the net and facing a lot of tough situations.
One big factor in the victory was the skaters in front of Crawford. For the first time in over a week, the effort in front of the netminder was outstanding. Any rebounds left in front by Crawford were quickly cleared, and Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brian Campbell and Duncan Keith all had crucial poke checks to separate the puck from an advancing Detroit player.
Perhaps the most shocking statistic from the game was the total number of penalty minutes called in the game: two.
Overall, it may have been the best team effort from a team that was without Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane and Viktor Stalberg. The Hawks were disciplined, and the effort from every skater was their best.
Which is just another example of the biggest problem facing this year’s Chicago Blackhawks.
How does the same team that beats the then-streaking Kings in late October turn around and get blasted by the Edmonton Oilers 48 hours later?
How does the same team allow seven goals in Calgary turn around the very next night and score seven in Vancouver?
How does the same team that allowed 11 goals in their previous two games against Colorado then hold the best team in the Western Conference to one?
The problems with this team have been fairly obvious. When key players like Kane, Hossa, Campbell, Hjalmarsson and Patrick Sharp all miss games because of injuries, considering the roster turnover from last year to the present, it’s going to be nearly impossible to get a consistent lineup together.
But missing players is just an excuse.
If the tables were turned last night, and the Blackhawks had skated as well as the Red Wings did and lost 4-1, there’s a big part of the population that would have left that game accepting the loss. After all, the fourth line center was a free agent on Monday and the wings on either side of him were defensemen by trade.
Friday night’s game was set up for a blow out… for Detroit.
What we saw in the game, though, was that the Blackhawks are talented enough to skate with, and beat, anyone in the league. All they have to do is bring it.
If these Blackhawks really, truly play as hard as they can every night, we have seen that they are capable of being a top-four seed in the Western Conference.