The Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t a very good hockey team but they don’t get paid in beer and pizza. The Blackhawks are much better but not good enough to survive a terrible goal tending performance.
Simply put Cristobal Huet was in goal last night because he has to play some games before the end of the season. The Hawks were in the midst of a five games in nine day stretch and Antti Niemi is not Marty Brodeur. Huet had been sick with the flu but was deemed fit to see action…Or so Joel Quenneville thought.
Quenneville hasn’t mentioned it to me, but given the choice my belief is he would rather play Huet on the road. So last night the Blue Jackets were the lucky hosts.
Huet hadn’t played since losing to the Flyers on March 13.
Unfortunately it appeared Huet hadn’t seen action since March 13 of 2009.
What occurred in Columbus last night might signal the beginning of the end of Cristobal Huet’s time in Chicago. Almost every one of the seven goals scored on Huet was directly his fault. If body language can indicate such, Huet looked like a beaten man after the second goal.
The 8-3 loss was as bad as the score indicated and was painful to watch.
To make matters worse for Hawk fans Huet couldn’t have picked a worse night to be bad, as many of his teammates weren’t very good either.
It’s not easy to feel sorry for a player making over $5 million dollars but Huet appears to be a mess. He is the type of person fans should want to root for as he shoulders the blame and doesn’t make excuses. But last night he looked as if he didn’t want to touch the puck let alone stop it.
It would not be a stretch to say Huet has never really fit in with the Blackhawks. Now he appears to have lost his confidence. Down deep his teammates must feel like they can’t afford to make any errors in front of him. Last night’s performance was one of the worse goal keeping efforts I have seen.
Let’s cut through the pretense the number one goal keeping job in Chicago wasn’t open for debate before last night’s game. Huet will get a few more starts before the end of the season but time is running out for him to regain his form.
The real issue now is if Huet can be useful at all, or is he broken beyond repair.
Quenneville pulled Huet in the middle frame but brought him back for the final period.
It’s easy to say now, but it might have been best for the Hawks bench boss to wait for another day to get Huet back on track. But maybe Quenneville was more afraid of exposing Niemi to another twenty minutes of the Blue Jacket attack.
Having one shaky goal keeper is bad but two is much worse.
After making an ordinary save in the final period Huet heard the Bronx cheer from the Hawk fans in attendance. Probably the best thing about last night for Huet was his stinker wasn’t at the United Center.
With the loss Chicago blew their chance to lessen the burden in the final nine games. The Hawks are now 4-1 against the Jackets and will meet them for the final time on Sunday night at the United Center.
The injury riddled Hawks will conclude the regular season playing nine games in 15 days. Because of the heavy workload Huet will be needed again.
The fate of Huet in Chicago will ultimately rest with Rocky Wirtz. Unlike his predecessors Rocky knows it cost money to make money.
With a crowded UFA goalie market on tap this summer Huet’s salary will make it almost impossible to trade him. If he is gift wrapped with a couple of desired players the Hawks could be cutting off their nose to spite their face by making such a trade. Even with an ample amount of bait, trading Huet would be a big task for Stan Bowman.
My guess is Huet will somehow be elsewhere next season, with Mr.Wrtz paying all or a good portion of his pay. The benefit to Bowman will be the $4,875,000, which is the difference between Huet’s salary and Corey Crawford’s cap hit.
What to do with Huet this summer is the minor concern for now. Brain Campbell will probably miss at least another six weeks and the team is not playing their best.
The playoffs are just around the corner and Quenneville will have to hope Huet is not broken beyond repair.
The Hawks clinched a playoff birth because the Flames lost to the Islanders.
But no one felt like throwing a party.
Kris Versteeg was a team worse -4.
Nick Boynton was a +1, the only plus Hawk. That’s hard to do when your team surrenders seven even strength goals.
Boynton played almost 19 minutes last night and has done a nice job since being called up.
Even Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane weren’t very noticeable in Columbus. They seldom disappear and usually not together.
Huet allowed seven goals on 27 shots…that will help destroy a save percentage.
Does that even matter anymore?
About the Author: