The Chicago Blackhawks bye week begins with the team in trouble. Another poor performance Sunday left many fans wondering what is going on with their favorite team. They have issues to address before the February 26th trade deadline. What moves are ahead for the struggling team?
Chicago Blackhawks Limp Into Their Bye Week
The Chicago Blackhawks play this past Sunday was typical of their inconsistent season. They hosted the Detroit Red Wings, who had just played the day before. The more rested Blackhawks (22-17-6), should have been able to handle the Red Wings (18-18-7) in the matinée affair. One would also expect the Blackhawks to come out charging the last game before their bye week, especially considering the Blackhawks are fighting to stay in contention for a playoff spot.
Unfortunately for those watching the game, the Blackhawks team that showed up was a great disappointment. After preaching repeatedly that good starts were important to their success, the Blackhawks looked tired and disinterested in the opening period. They were down 2-0 at the end of period one and never recovered as they lost 4-0 to the Red Wings. It was another loss in which the Blackhawks compete level was lacking. They were thoroughly outplayed, yet again.
Bye Week Blues
The Chicago Blackhawks limp into their bye week lacking the needed momentum for the second half of the season. They are a team looking for answers as they watch themselves falling in the Western Conference standings. Head coach Joel Quenneville will have his work cut out for him in the second half of the season. Check out this from Charlie Roumeliotis of NBC Sports Chicago:
“To make things even more difficult, they’ll be sitting at home or on vacation for the next five days while they watch other Western Conference teams accumulate points during their league-mandated bye week. That means when they return to action on Saturday they’ll have lots of ground to make-up and minimal margin for error.”
General manager Stan Bowman has never been one to stand pat with his team. He recently made a trade with the Arizona Coyotes acquiring Anthony Duclair in exchange for Richard Panik. The deal did free up some cap space for the Blackhawks, but Duclair’s status as a restricted free agent after this season may come back to bite the perpetual cap challenged Blackhawks.
Once the Blackhawks return to action Saturday, they’ll have a little over a month until the NHL February 26th trade deadline. It’s expected that the Blackhawks will be active between now and the trade deadline. The only question is which area of the team do they try to improve? Their goaltending is a big question mark as Corey Crawford remains out on injured reserve. Crawford’s status may affect the direction Bowman goes in making any trades. The Blackhawks have been silent on Crawford’s possible return, which is never a good sign. Check this out from Satchel Price of Second City Hockey:
“The last time Corey Crawford played for the Blackhawks was two days before Christmas. He was pulled early in a loss to the Devils after giving up three goals on seven shots. It seemed harmless enough, an off game for the star goalie right before a holiday break.
But four days later, the Blackhawks placed Crawford on injured reserve for the second time this season The team said the absence would be “indefinite” but declined to offer any other details, something that’s not unusual in the NHL. We’re often left in the dark when it comes to the nitty-gritty of why players are sitting out.”
If Crawford is able to return soon, it will give Stan Bowman one more hole to fill as he tries to improve the Blackhawks for the stretch run. Only time will tell what direction Bowman goes and whether the Blackhawks players respond as a team facing their worst season in a long time. If they fail to make the playoffs, there will be a lot of questions to be answered in the off-season. Who’s here to answer them may also be very interesting.
CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 23: Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) looks on in the first period during a Preseason game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Columbus Blue Jackets on September 23, 2017, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)