Thursday night, the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Islanders met up in the Nassau Coliseum in New York in the wake of the immense snow storms that were beginning to slam the east coast. Going into this match, the Islanders had been cited as having offensive difficulties, which implied that the game should have been an easy win for the offensive might of the Blackhawks, but it was not.
The Islanders somehow managed to hold a two-goal lead into the second period, before the Blackhawks were able to find momentum and start to get points up on the board and lead the game into overtime. Said overtime was brought to a quick 3-2 end by Kyle Okposo of the Islanders, who like Brandon Saad of the Blackhawks, had just a day before been snubbed to represent Team USA in the Winter Olympics.
These are the types of games that are frustrating for Hawks fans to watch. When it seems that the squad has the upper hand in a battle out on the ice and they struggle to get a goal up on the board in the first period, it is understandable why the frustration can exist.
The fact that Corey Crawford was returning for the first time to the net after a 10-game injury hiatus could have been an easy thing to hang the loss on. However, while Crawford may not have looked like himself in the earlier portion of the game, he found his stride and by the third period was playing beautifully.
Therefore, the lack of conclusive evidence seems to point to the fact that the Hawks could have underestimated their opponents. This has been a trend throughout the 2013-14 season, where we expect a Blackhawks victory and are met with the team skating up until the very last minute to try and earn a win, and sometimes coming up empty handed.
Chicago needs to play every game with a similar mentality as their most recent matchup with the Los Angeles Kings. The Hawks were found saying that they treated this game like a playoff game, which helped them to focus and play at their very best. What an incredible, intense, nail-biter that game was!
Using this frame of mind, the Blackhawks will be able to avoid the awkward situation of underestimating their opponents. Going out onto the ice and playing like your life depends on it is essentially any skater’s job. Playing in this mindset will allow them to not be surprised by any opponent that approaches them out on the ice.