The NHL regular season is 82 games long and there will be times the Blackhawks come up with a dismal effort. Often, the better teams save the substandard outings for later in the season, during the dog days of January and February, but the Blackhawks got the jump on half-hearted efforts on Friday night in Carolina.
There is no embarrassment in losing to Cam Ward and the Hurricanes, especially in an away game. But the Hawks didn’t simply go down in defeat; their effort was so poor it was highly unlikely they could possibly win.
The Blackhawks played their worst period of the season versus the Hurricanes in the opening frame. What followed wasn’t very good either, as the Hawks only showed flashes of determination. The result was a well deserved 3-0 loss.
The next day the Hawks had a chance to get back on track at the United Center against the club with the poorest record in the NHL. Blackhawks ledge jumpers held hands but didn’t need to take a plunge as their favorite club survived to post a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The league is so competitive that almost every game and each shift matters. The Blackhawks had been winning while not playing their best, as was the case versus Anaheim last Tuesday. Usually it is only a matter of time until a substandard effort leads to defeat.
The best teams don’t string losses together. It remains to be seen if the Hawks will end up in the upper echelon of the NHL. There are reasons to be confident, but after this weekend, it is apparent better efforts will be required on a consistent basis.
There is a common thread that runs through teams suffering losses or struggling to win. Many times those clubs have difficulty scoring goals and usually their power play goes dormant. Another commonality in bad times is many of the best players seem to disappear.
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