Sometimes a little too much praise can be a bad thing. You think you’re the best and then it all comes crashing down hard all around you. The Chicago Blackhawks found that out the hard way against the Toronto Maple Leafs. After putting up six or more goals in three straight games, the Hawks found themselves on the wrong end of a similar score line against a struggling Maple Leafs team.
The fact that the Blackhawks got their clocks cleaned is already a surprise. Just seeing the aforementioned scoreline of 7-3 is even more surprising. In a way, it sends a message to the Blackhawks: Don’t get cocky. Head Coach Joel Quenneville said it best when he told the media, “We were probably looking for an easy game, thinking that you’ll score six goals a night. That’s not going to happen in this league.”
To put it simply, the Blackhawks underestimated the struggling Leafs, and aided by their own confidence, let their guard down.
In a long season like this, it’s easy to get distracted, especially when people (guilty as charged) are talking about how good your offense is. Of course, there was also the little problem with the Blackhawks’ already problematic weaknesses, their penalty kill and defense coming back to bite them in the rear. The PK gave up two goals and well, it’s not hard to see how the defense failed.
Add that onto penalty trouble early on, and you have a recipe for disaster. The only silver lining from that game was Patrick Kane‘s two goals that kept him near the top of the NHL‘s points race and Brandon Saad scored his 12th goal of the year. These two bright spots aside, the Blackhawks need to take a step back and assess their situation moving forward.
However, they are still in the lead in the Central Division and Western Conference. It’s essentially a bump in the road, but it was the equivalent of driving fast over a speed bump and almost knocking your head on the ceiling of the car.
A big loss is never fun, especially for a team that is on fire. But the Hawks are playing in a very competitive league. The NHL is not the NBA and the Hawks are not the Miami Heat. They need to stay focused on the near future and eat their serving of humble pie. They’ll be better down the long run, but every now and then a game will come that will bring them back down to earth. They’ll just have to move on with a new dose of humility.