Although this may be an unpopular opinion coming off the kind of game the Chicago Blackhawks played against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at Consol Energy Center, now is still not the time to throw in those rally towels, oh loyal fans of the red and black.
Sunday evening the Penguins not only handed the Blackhawks their third straight loss, but Brooks Orpik handed captain Jonathan Toews a crushing hit in the 2nd period, sending Toews to the locker room and out of the game for the evening. An official diagnosis is yet to be announced.
In addition to the Toews injury, the Blackhawks’ other star Patrick Kane is currently sidelined as well, setting up yet another road block along Chicago’s path to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions this season.
However, this is still not the time to panic.
The Blackhawks are not, nor have had to be in recent years, a team riding on the talents of two stars to succeed in a season. Whether Chicago can finish things off as intended is not a question of ability. With a roster spreading deep from the likes of Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa to the dynamics of relative newcomers Andrew Shaw and Ben Smith, the “numbers” of Chicago’s lines are merely for a formality, not order of ability. As a result, the Blackhawks are the highest scoring team in the NHL this season.
Having already proven themselves in the hockey world, the question of this team’s championship potential is now something far more simple: can they wake up from whatever has put them to sleep within the past two weeks?
Self preservation prior to playoffs is natural, some coaches would even argue it’s smart. And home ice advantage isn’t a factor Chicago relies on for success. But the promise of the Blackhawks playing the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the playoffs is slowly becoming more fact and there might come a time when this team can no longer wake itself back up before the Avalanche have a chance to come in hot. And Toews or no Toews, that right there could be the actual season ending problem.