With the Blackhawks’ shootout loss to the streaking Phoenix Coyotes Friday night at the United Center, the Hawks are now winless in three straight, a mark they haven’t reached all year.
Moreover, reaching back to mid-January, the Hawks are a staggeringly human 3-4-1 in their last eight games.
This one came down to a sequence that went the Coyotes’ way, similar to the “Andrew Ladd sequence” in Wednesday’s tilt against the Blues. With a one-goal lead and killing a too-many-men penalty, Marian Hossa found himself – get this – on a breakaway. (The NHL has to start keeping tabs of stats like this. Shouldn’t Hossa be on pace to break some sort of record with his ridiculous number of breakaways and odd-man opportunities?) As has been the trend recently, Hossa was stoned on the opportunity. Back came the Coyotes, and less than a minute later, a weak Radim Vrbata wrister made its way through traffic and past Cristobal Huet to tie the game.
From there, the Hawks only mustered six shots during the third and just a decent chance or two. Other than the last few minutes of the period – where Toews, Kane and Hossa created some havoc in the Phoenix zone – and six minutes of Hawk penalty kills, the third was played mostly in the neutral zone by two teams that registered only 11 total shots during the frame.
Overtime came and went, and the procession of ex-Hawks continued into the shootout. Castaways Robert Land and Adrian Aucoin beat Huet, while Jason LaBarbera stopped Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa. Aucoin’s game winner, which preceded LaBarbera’s poke check of Hossa on the final chance, hit Huet in the shoulder but had enough steam to squirt off and past him.
Yo, Listen Up
– First, an incredibly somber note: Pat and Eddie – sort of – mentioned it last night, but Brian Burke’s son passed away yesterday after a car accident. Many of you may know the back story, but Burke’s son, Brendan, came out of the closet last year. John Buccigross told the story in a recent ESPN column everyone should read, but suffice it to say that Burke and his wife accepted Brendan’s lifestyle with open arms. More recently, Brendan worked as a part of the Miami of Ohio staff and had ambitions to do more within the hockey community after graduation.
From all I’d heard, he was a great hockey man, just like his dad, and had a great opportunity to take a step towards chipping away at many of the barriers that currently exist for homosexuals in all sports. It was a cross he apparently didn’t mind bearing.
Here’s hoping his message doesn’t grow quieter with his passing.
– Back to life’s fun and games:
I said it a couple weeks ago, and I stand by it: There’s not a whole lot that I could see between now and playoff time that will change my opinion about this Hawk team.
Remember last March, when hundreds of people were threatening to launch themselves off a roof during the Hawks’ early spring struggles? Remember all the things people said were wrong with the Hawks at the time? From sloppy defensive play to a lack of offense to inconsistent goaltending, it was all well forgotten before the Hawks advance to the Conference Finals.
Listen, this isn’t the early ’70s Bruins here, but the Hawks are really, really good by today’s NHL standards. What’s more, it’s a group that has proven it can adjust its game come playoff time.
So, until then, just trust me and relax. This is just a small bump in the road that even sports’ greatest teams hit.
– Case in point: the Hawks have looked rather disinterested the past couple weeks. Whether it’s the Olympics or a team looking forward to the playoffs, the Hawks won’t approach games in this way come springtime.
In the meantime, they’ll certainly try to change that.
– Many have said it for two years now, but it may be time for Kane to find a new shootout move. In all fairness to Kane, he had LaBarbera beat last night, and put it off the post.
– In the same vein, I’ve now started to just take my pants off before Toews’ shootout attempts. Last night, LaBarbera looked like he was struggling to get out of a pit of M&Ms when Toews beat him like a rented mule.
– Tonight’s tilt against the Blues should be a good one, assuming the Hawks can muster up a fight so close to the Olympic break.
– Steve Rosenbloom called Dan Jansen “Cam Janssen” this morning on The Score. Pretty sure those are two separate people.
– Eddie O. said the Hawks went into a semi-box during last night’s 4-on-3 Hawk power play during overtime. I think he’s just making things up at this point.