I don’t normally blame losses on goaltending. The logic is generally too simplistic, and it’s usually wrong.
But, rules are meant to be broken.
In a two-goal loss on Tuesday night on Long Island against the Islanders, Blackhawk goalies surrendered no fewer than two horrible, soft goals. The poor goaltending led to a four-goal Islander explosion during the second period and a nonexistent, deflated Hawk attack in the same time frame.
The timing couldn’t be more apropos. With the NHL trade deadline just hours around the corner and the Hawks rumored to be in pursuit of a goaltender, one wonders whether the forgettable performances turned in by each of the Chicago netminders Tuesday will push Hawk management to make a deal. Toss in the fact that a noteworthy performance by Dwayne Roloson – who was signed by the Islanders last off-season with the express purpose of moving him tomorrow – and the “Twilight Zone” theme music begins to play in my head.
The outlook remains the same, however.
On one hand, Coach Joel Quenneville doesn’t seem to have the confidence most NHL coaches have in a $5 million-plus goalie, and there’s little disagreement that Antti Niemi is no more than a competent number two at this point in his career. The situation seems ripe for new blood.
On the other hand, a five-goal turd sandwich doesn’t change the fact that the Hawks would have to move heaven and earth to bring in anyone making something more than the league minimum, i.e. any goaltender who could make a difference with this squad.
So, where do we stand?
A trade involving either Cristobal Huet leaving the Blackhawks – without having to rent a two-flat in Rockford – or an established goalie coming to Chicago remains highly unlikely. (A rumor swirling around the internets on Tuesday apparently involved Toronto, already the goaltending capital of the world, acquiring Huet.) The Hawks are just too close to the salary cap, and Huet’s contract is prohibitive.
But, one has to think that, if the Hawks believe they can somehow bring in a goalie, Tuesday night was a nudge towards consummating a deal. If nothing else, the odds are stacked against Huet succeeding in a Hawk uniform, and Niemi’s still a couple years from entering the peak years for an NHL netminder.
The Hawks seem to know both, but they’ll be hard pressed to do anything about it.
Yo, Listen Up
– In case you missed it, Niemi started, and gave up four three goals – one of which was undeniably horrible. Huet came on in relief in the early stages of the second and one-upped his predecessor rather quickly.
– I’m not exactly sure what Dustin Byfuglien did with his Olympic break, but I know two things for sure: (i) he didn’t stay in Chicago, and (ii) he didn’t take his sunglasses off often enough. Byfuglien scored the Hawks’ third and final goal of the evening looking like he fell asleep on a beach wearing oversized Ray-Bans within the last six days.
– I’m confused. I know that six Hawks played a handful of competitive games during the past two weeks and that the rest played little-to-no hockey during that period. But, I get lost in the ridiculous lines of unprovable logic concerning the two groups. Shouldn’t the Olympians be tired, but sharp? And, the Hawks who had the two weeks off should be rusty? Or, is it the other way around? The Olympians aren’t sharp?
Let’s all just worry about things we … ya know … know exist. Let fate deal with the circumstantial bull crap.
– Someone needs to tell Brent Seabrook that the Olympics are over and that he can open his eyes now. Seabrook served up the Islanders’ first goal on a silver saucer.
– Blake Comeau is closing in on induction into the Martin Erat All-Stars, a collection of players who unexplainably overachieve against the Hawks. Last year, Comeau was a force in the United Center, knocking into Hawks like a hungry bull and adding two assists along the way. Thursday Comeau matched 1/3 of his season output for goals en route to a hat trick.
– Tomas Kopecky’s Olympic effort seemed to move Joel Quenneville, who gave Kopecky forty minutes with Marian Hossa and Dave Bolland. Kopecky played the third next to Ben Eager after he predictably did nothing for the first two periods.
– Speaking of Marian Hossa, we all know he’s incredibly electrifying. His shot is out of this world, and he’s as strong on the puck as anyone in the NHL. But, the guy has to lead the league in blown opportunities. In one shift on the Island, Hossa blew about four bona fide chances, completely whiffing on one. (Of course, Pat Foley blamed it on his lack of sharpness – because, ya know, he played a handful of games during the past two weeks.)