By: Tristan Angulo
The Jekyll-and-Hyde season continues.
The Chicago Blackhawks entered tonight’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs in a precarious situation. They have dropped five out of their last seven home games, which includes a three-game losing streak. They are seven points out of the last wildcard spot in the Western Conference. They are dead last in the Central Division, which they dominated only a year ago.
Suffice it to say, they needed two points tonight.
They only got the one, losing 3-2 in overtime.
As far as efforts go, the Blackhawks have been playing really well these past two games. They outskated the Leafs from the beginning, resulting in a Brent Seabrook power play (yes, a power play goal…from Brent Seabrook!) 5:29 into the first period. Toronto got the equalizer 16 and a half minutes into the first, when an obvious icing was not called on a play. Seabrook thought the play was dead, which the Leafs capitalized on.
Toronto took the lead five minutes into the third frame, off of a power play by Nazem Kadri. The Hawks got the equalizer three minutes later on a Nick Schmaltz power play. The Maple Leafs got the extra point in overtime, courtesy of a William Nylander penalty shot. With the point, the Hawks improved to being just six points out of the second wildcard spot in the West. Their record falls to 22-19-7, good for dead last in the Central.
I know there’s still 10 weeks left in the season, and the Hawks can still somehow get into a run that can propel them into the playoffs. But, if I am being honest with myself, I really don’t think this team, in its current state, has the drive to make it to the dance, let alone survive three rounds and make it to the Cup Final.
I think Ray Ferraro said it best in tonight’s broadcats after the Kadri goal. He said that there was “nothing” akin to urgency on the bench, likening the players to just sitting there, “like they’re just watching a movie.” Its like the team’s psyche is very fragile and can break at any moment, unlike previous seasons when they can easily brush off a tough loss or a tough call by going on a manic run.
Hopefully, this is not the case, and the team capitalizes on two well-played games, albeit those games having bad outcomes. Its not over until game 82 is played, so there is still hope. But one thing is for sure: the longest active playoff streak in the West is now teetering off a cliff.