Friday, January 27, 2017

Blackhawks Limp Into All-Star Break. Is It Time To Panic?

By Randy Holndoner (@bhawkschatter)

Four days off could not have come to the Chicago Blackhawks at a better time, after they find themselves limping into the All Star break losing their last two games in heart breaking fashion.  

78-0-5.  That was the Blackhawks' record when leading after two periods going into last Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Entering the third period, Tampa Bay scored 4 times (1 empty net goal) to stun the Hawks and deal them their first loss in over 2.5 years, when leading after two periods.  

Thursday night, the Blackhawks held a 3-2 lead against the Winnipeg Jets heading into the third period.  The Jets tallied 3 goals to grab a 5-3 win at the United Center.

Both games on home ice.

They have been outscored, 7-0 in the third period of those two games.  Something that doesn't sit well with the team.  Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson stated that "We could have had four points, and we [came] away with none", reported by Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times. "That hurts."

The Blackhawks this year are filled with young players like Ryan Hartman, Vinnie Hinostroza, Nick Schmaltz and Tanner Kero.  All have contributed to the success of the team this year, but they are still young.  Back checking, positioning, penalties.  These are areas they have needed some work with this year.  There will be games like the ones this week.  Learning experiences.  

The Hawks lead the league in one goal games with 30 in 51 games (18-7-5).  Good experience for those young players come playoff time, when those close games are the ones they will need to know how to win.  But will that be enough?

Is it time to panic for Blackhawks fans?  Trade CrawfordToews is overpaid!  This team is going nowhere this year!  Yep, those comments have been made already.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I would say they are a bit premature.

If I checked the calendar, it still showed late January.  Still over a third of the season remains.  This is the time where the Hawks tend to hit their "dog days of winter" mode, where they don't play their best hockey anyway.  They will come off of the All-Star break, straight into a 6-game road trip. Another good test for this team to re-focus.

History and experience is still behind this team.  They are far from being a second thought come this post-season.  These players know what it takes to win.  There will be bad games and they will learn from them.  Coach Joel Quenneville has been in this league too long to let his team putter out.  

Time will sort out what happens.  Till then, lets enjoy the All-Star weekend, and the remaining third of the season before the games really count.


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