Into the tailspin we go. So many have asked whether it was time to panic yet. We asked during those last few games before the Olympics, when it seemed nothing was determined until the shootout. We asked after the Olympics, when the Blackhawks came out of the gate limping and coasting at times. We asked when Brian Campbell got injured, then Brent Seabrook got charged. We asked because Kim Johnsson, traded for so he could anchor the third pair, now
to now anchor the 2nd but he hasn't skated in close to two weeks.
And now, after losing three games in a row to division rivals almost out of the playoff picture, we ask again.
But the thing is, we knew (or at least, I hope we did) that the dominant run in November and December didn't indicate anything one way or another about the playoffs. We said it was a long season, and the playoffs are a different beast. Both those things still hold true. Timing may be something, but it isn't everything. What we saw during November and December is a team that can win everything. What we're seeing now is how that team can lose everything. What we don't know for sure, though, is which team we'll see come April. It's too early to tell, and momentum shifts quickly. By no means is this meant to be a blindly optimistic view--I'm just saying we've seen both ends of the spectrum for the Blackhawks and the uncertainty of it all is kind of the point of playing all 82 games of a season and going through the playoffs.
- The first period. Through this slump, we've seen flashes of the team that dominated the first part of the season. Only flashes so far, but here's why it's good: we know that this team is capable of doing well without Campbell, then, and maybe without Johnsson too.
- The first line. They were all over for a while there, generating chances and converting on two of them. Of course, Sharp was responsible for allowing the Blues' goal #4, but we can chalk that up to the 3rd period blues or something.
- The end of March is near. And maybe water will be returning to its level soon.
- Inconsistency. Where the 60-minute effort is going, I have no idea, but it just isn't there anymore.
- The other lines. Okay, so we'll give them a bit more time. Bolland-Ladd-Brouwer seems, in theory, like it could be a good checking line, but I still feel like there are too many similiarities among these players for them to play as cohesively as a unit. These are all guys you'd see in front of the net. Versteeg and Kane, meanwhile, are also too similar to each other to really play well together. But we all have our own ideas about what the lines should be, don't we?
- The power play. Thank goodness there weren't many of these.
- Sopel's face. Took a puck off the draw, and there was blood all over the ice. Yikes. Hopefully it doesn't set him back for very long.
- Byfuglien's identity crisis. I was never a big Byfuglien fan, but this switching from defense to forward to defense to forward thing cannot possibly be good for him. Sure, he's versatile, but knowing how to play different positions doesn't make you able to hone your skills in either of them. The other reason I hope Sopel doesn't get sidelined for very long is because if he does, then Byfuglien will be back at the blue line. Don't confuse him any more than you have to.
- Jonathan Toews' mural by the Eisenhower. Never mind the Toewsface. Never mind the pig snout. What the fuck is the Cup doing there, and why does nobody in this city understand what a jinx entails? Yeah, I'm superstitious, but who would ever think this was a good idea to begin with?