I should be worried about the Blackhawks right now, but sorry, I can’t work up the concern or panic.
They’ve lost three straight thanks to some some inept and inert play. On Sunday night at home, they choked away two points in a loss to a Jets team that’s closer to 12thplace than a playoff spot.
Jonathan Toews couldn’t explain it, even though it was pretty simple: The Hawks lost the game in the first two periods.
The Hawks dominated the puck and the offensive zone, but led only 1-0. They were 0-for-3 on the power play in the first 40 minutes, and it seemed just a matter of time, and it was. The only surprise is that former Stanley Cup-winning Hawk Andrew Ladd, not former Cup-winning Hawk Dustin Byfuglien, potted the winner in the third period.
So that’s three straight losses to worse teams, and one goal in each of the last two. This, mind you, followed two sparkling wins over Anaheim, the class of the conference the Hawks were supposed to own, and Boston, an Eastern power.
So, you could complain about the Hawks’ inconsistency if you want, and you’d be spot-on.
You could scream about playoff positioning in a brutally tough Western Conference, and you’d have a case. The Hawks stand second behind the Ducks, but it’s a bit of a mirage because they could lose home-ice advantage if the Blues and Sharks win their games in hand.
You also could panic over Patrick Kane’s one measly goal and five stinking assists in 12 games going back to Dec. 30. Or Patrick Sharp’s one goal and minus-5 in his last 10 games and Jonathan Toews’ two goals in 14 games.
Yes, you could panic over that and more, but what’s happening now doesn’t seem worth popping a vein. I could be wrong, but this looks and feels like what happens during a regular season, especially one so crammed with games because of the NHL’s inane participation in the Olympics.
I can scream pretty good when I detect a death spiral, but I don’t see that in this team. Not yet, anyway. Not with the Olympics and trade deadline to go.
The 10 Hawks going to the Olympics need to come back healthy. Period. That’s the only important part of the Games.
I have Russia playing Sweden for the gold because the North American teams of NHL players have struggled with the combination of covering both a lot of time zones and the bigger international-size ice. But even if it’s U.S.-Canada in the final, it only matters that Kane, Toews, Sharp and Duncan Keith get out of Russia healthy.
The next real target is the trade deadline. The Hawks ought to know what they need already, and Stan Bowman could launch a pre-emptive strike to acquire the No. 2 center Kane needs.
But even if it’s after the Olympics and closer to the deadline, something has to be decided besides putting Michal Handzus to sleep.
If no deal gets cut and the Hawks can’t find an in-house fix, then there would seem to be reason to worry.
Then again, I complained last year that the Hawks were trying to win a Cup without a legit No. 2 center, and somehow it turned out OK, eh?
You can have concerns now, but my advice is to save your panic for the playoffs. Discuss amonst yourselves whatever you want, but remember, this is a franchise whose 2104 calendar starts and ends in June.