By Adam Hess
The Chicago Blackhawks stormed into 2016 as the hottest team in the NHL. They opened the year with 10 straight wins, not losing until January 21. They came back from the All-Star Break hot as well, earning three straight wins on the road and posting some of their best possession numbers in doing so.
Those hot streaks made Chicago’s recent struggles at home all the more surprising and frustrating. They lost three straight home games in frustrating fashion, including getting shutout by the San Jose Sharks after having a goal waved off, and a 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars in which Dallas scored all four goals in the first period.
As frustrating and borderline embarrassing as those losses at home were, in all reality, there is not too much to worry about with the Blackhawks at this point in time. The Blackhawks remain one of the NHL’s best teams, and three losses in February don’t change that. In fact, the February losses could prove to be a good thing.
Last season, the Blackhawks went through a similar February rough patch, posting a 6-7-0 record during that month. During that stretch included a three game losing streak at home as well, and we all know what happened in June of 2015.
While I’m not suggesting that this recent rough patch means that the Blackhawks are a lock to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, the overarching point here is pretty simple: please, please, do not panic about the Blackhawks.
This is a team that plays hockey from October to April with their minds focused on playing from April to June. They don’t need to win the Central Division or earn home ice advantage in the playoffs, though those things are nice.
The Blackhawks really just need to make it to the playoffs. They’ve shown that these last few seasons, finishing third in the central division both years but making it to June anyway. In fact, if not for a lame duck shot hitting Nick Leddy and floating over Corey Crawford’s shoulder in Game 7 of the 2014 Western Conference Final, Chicago would probably have won three straight Stanley Cups.
As a fan, it can be extremely frustrating to watch a team that you expect to be among the best play like garbage for several games in a row, especially at home. It’s frustrating to them as well, as indicated by many of Head Coach Joel Quenneville’s post game press conferences.
But these games are truly nothing to get too worked about. If you’re sick of watching them suck during a game, do what I did last week during the Dallas game. Turn the damn game off.
Just make sure you have it back on in April, because you’ll probably have a lot more fun then.