The Blackhawks have stunk in a lot of ways lately.
They have blown two-goal leads. They failed to show up in a home game against an evil enemy. And Tuesday night in St. Louis, they were trying to play croquet.
They have the worst power play in the league, and maybe the worst in history. Now their penalty killing is killing them. And 5-on-5, the only thing worse than their puck-handling is their passing.
Coach Joel Quenneville has changed lines, but he got worse execution. Quenneville changed defensive pairs, but everybody looked unsure. Quenneville rides his best goalie, but the big target has come up small.
I hear anger from Hawks fans. I read panic in the Hawk Twitterverse. This looks like a disaster.
Great. Excellent. Just what the Hawks need.
I’m not defending their game or their approach. I’m not against bag-skating them, either. And I’m not suggesting fans organize an Occupy Power Play movement.
I’m just saying that playing lousy is a good thing for the Hawks and might be coming at a good time, too, and here’s why:
The lousy play won’t last because the Hawks are too talented, but the lousy play at this time gives management insight to the team’s holes.
Maybe the last week of watching the Hawks and wanting to trade the Visine for battery acid confirmed what general manager Stan Bowman knew. Like, say, the one downside to trading Brian Campbell and his silly salary is how it affects production on the power play.
Or maybe it showed Bowman something he didn’t expect. Like, I don’t know, free-agent defensemen signed to provide reliable depth aren’t even Chris Campoli at this point.
Either way, it’s better to find out that stuff now. It’s better to try to fix it now, either from within the system or by raiding someone else’s.
Look, despite their awful play of late, the Hawks are still in first place in the Central Division. They are tied for third overall in the Western Conference and tied for the fourth overall in the NHL. They got off to a good start that is helping minimize the damage from recent play that makes you want to suck on an exhaust pipe.
Like I said, this is a good time for bad. Even when the bad starts at the top. One goal in the last two weeks by Jonathan Toews is not exactly captain-like leadership. Two goals in about the same stretch by Patrick Sharp is not exactly alternate captain-like play. But come on, do you think those guys will stink like that all season?
Do you actually think the Hawks forgot how to go tape-to-tape? Do you believe all those snipers will never again score with the man-advantage? Do you feel that all the speed they have on that roster is suddenly going all Brent Sopel?
Didn’t think so.
Calm down, hosers. This is an opportunity, not a death spiral.
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