Chicago Blackhawks: Is It Time to Panic with Injury to Patrick Sharp?

Michael GibbonsCorrespondent IIJanuary 9, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 08: Patrick Sharp #10 of the Chicago Blackhawks flies in air after colliding with Jonathan Ericsson #52 of the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center on January 8, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

So what is more worrisome: an undisclosed injury to Patrick Sharp or a four-game losing streak?

Sharp left Sunday's loss to the Red Wings after scoring his 20th goal of the season in the first period. He did not return to the bench in the second period and reportedly left with an upper body injury. Coach Joel Quenneville had this to say after the game:

"He's got an upper-body (injury). We're going to do some tests. We'll know more tomorrow."

Hopefully, the injury is nothing serious but anytime they say tests have to be run the next day you have to assume he may miss a game or two.

Now, an upper-body injury could mean a lot of things. He could have hurt a shoulder, wrist, arm or even have a concussion. Traditionally, the Blackhawks are very vague when it comes to injuries, we still don't know how seriously Dan Carcillo's injury is.

Update: Coach Joel Quenneville announced on Monday that Patrick sharp will miss three to four weeks.

Losing Sharp for an extended period of time would be a huge blow to the Hawks. He is currently second on the team in goals behind only Jonathan Toews and third overall in points behind Marian Hossa and Toews. Besides his scoring, he is also a vital member on the Hawks special teams being on the top power play and one of the top penalty killing units.

An injury to any of the top four (Sharp, Toews, Hossa or Patrick Kane) couldn't come at a worse time as the Blackhawks find themselves in the midst of a four-game losing streak. Worst of all, the top lines are currently struggling to score. Proof of that is they have been shut out twice in the last six games.

Did I mention that three of the four loses came on home ice?

After beating Columbus on December 26, the Hawks had 50 points. Since then they have collected three points out of a possible 12.

The Blackhawks currently find themselves third in their own division behind the Red Wings and St. Louis Blues. They have a game on both those teams as they have already played 42 games while the other two only have played 41.

So to answer my own question, I have to say the combination of both is making me panic.

Over this last week, the Hawks have looked much more like the team which was the eighth seed last season instead of the Stanley Cup champions from two seasons ago.

The defense and the power play have been struggling greatly as of late. Nick Leddy, who has been a nice surprise this season, is a minus-seven over the last three games and the power play has only converted twice in the last 28 chances.

You have to wonder if the losing streak combined with a potentially serious injury to Sharp may speed up general manager Stan Bowman's timeline to make a trade. It may also shift his top focus from a defenseman or center to an impact wing player who can put the puck in the net.

With eight games left before the All-Star break, six at home and two on the road, the Hawks will have a chance to get back on track quickly. This week they will host Columbus, Minnesota and San Joe while traveling to Detroit.

If the Hawks can't right the ship before the break, it will be much more difficult afterwards. Awaiting them after the All-Star break is a nine-game road trip. Let's hope that Sharp isn't out too long, otherwise the season could be lost.