I'm going to avoid going to deeply into the negative following last night's fairly deflating Blackhawk loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
To my eye, it just goes to show a few things: mainly how narrow the margin is between winning and losing—convincingly either way—in the NHL. Except when you are a truly deep and 100% healthy team, which dear readers, the Chicago Blackhawks are not. Not at this point anyway.
There were a lot of failings last night: Jonathan Toews getting cleanly beaten on a face-off leading to tampa's tying goal early in the third. Trevor van Riemsdyk and Duncan Keith getting soundly beaten, and overall lackadaisical almost, effortless (and that not in a good way) commitment at times. Ditto Richard Panik as well. Corey Crawford still clearly not at the top of his game.
So chalk it up to a bad game, if you want, but I am going to stick by at least one observation I made a few blogs back: Keith does not look 100% or close to it. Every defenseman, even a 2-time Norris/Conn Smythe winning defenseman, makes bad decisions now and then. But again, Keith seems to lack the world-class explosion and short area quickness he has always been able to rely to rectify those errors.
What that does is make the Hawks' collective margin for error that much more precarious game to game.
And to be frank, I will just pose this question to readers, what if Crawford (like Keith) is very slow to regain form after this injury? At what point does Scott Darling (assuming he continues to play lights out), become #1 at least for a handful of games?
You can argue Crawford needs to play through his current issues—and that is likely the right argument. The question is, how long would you ride that assumption?
As for the Jekyll/Hyde team as a whole, you can focus on the bright side, 65 points and "second place" in the conference by virtue of points, and the fact that maybe on more nights than not, the Hawks margin for error is good enough. But I will submit to you that is against the aggregate average of all NHL teams the Hawks have played—not likely playoff teams, which this morning, the Lightning are not.
But all you can do is keep suiting up and working on things in practice and games. And the Hawks get back to business versus Winnipeg tomorrow night. I will have a preview tomorrow.