The Chicago Blackhawks lost a virtually meaningless game to the Washington Capitals by a score of 4-0. With Norris Trophy candidate Duncan Keith out of the lineup, the Hawks were listless against a Capitals team that had nothing to lose. Instead of gaining some much-needed momentum heading into a possible first-round series against the St. Louis Blues, the Hawks head into the final game of the season unmotivated.
The Capitals got on the board first thanks to Alex Ovechkin‘s league-leading 51st goal of the season. Jay Beagle scored about seven minutes later, the first of his two goals. Niklas Backstrom scored just over a minute into the second period and Beagle finished off the scoring just minutes later. The Hawks could not and did not mount a response to the Capitals.
Jaroslav Halak, a former Hawks enemy with the Blues, kept the Hawks off the board with 34 saves, preventing several good chances by the Hawks, like the one in the picture by Marian Hossa. Of course, the Hawks’ offense was pretty listless to begin with. The Hawks simply did not have any incentive to play, what with their third place in the Central Division inevitable. It’s a shame, really. Had they played better earlier in the season, this could not have happened (the third-place spot, that is).
It got so bad Corey Crawford was pulled in favor of Antti Raanta. Of course, the absence of Keith (why was he sat again? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense at this point) may have been a big factor in their lack of energy. Needless to say, Jeremy Morin‘s points streak was ended, and not even Patrick Sharp could save the offense.
Of course, there’s also another problem. The Hawks have lost eight of their last 10 road games, which certainly won’t help them in the playoffs. But, just as bad, this was not a good game for the Hawks. Their listless play cost them some valuable momentum going into the playoffs. Sometimes, it’s better to focus on the present, instead of the future. The Hawks should have listened to that advice.