Thursday night was a mixed-emotions day for both the Blackhawks and their fans. After being blown out 8-3 by the Columbus Jackets, possibly their worst played game of the season, the Blackhawks found out they had clinched the playoffs for the second straight year after a Calgary loss.
In the loss, Cristobal Huet made coach Joel Quennville's choice for starting goaltender even easier. Quennville gave Huet the green light on Thursday even after Niemi's sixth shutout of the season, hoping Huet would make his case for starting goaltender in the playoffs. It backfired.
Huet let up seven goals in his worst performance of his season, and maybe even his career. In fact it never even started well for Huet. He let up a soft goal 32 seconds into the game. The troubles didn't stop there.
Huet's inability to track down the puck and his slow reactions did him in early. He gave up a penalty shot to the Jackets' Jakub Voracek, the first given up by a Blackhawk since 2007. It's safe to say nothing went right for Huet Thursday night.
“It was terrible across the board,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “From the first shift to the end of the game … We discount it and throw it in the garbage can, knowing they are our next opponent and create an appetite off of that mess.”
In the midst of all that, the Blackhawks did make the playoffs, but it certainly was overlooked by the loss. It's not an ideal way to clinch a playoff spot nor the right way, but nonetheless it's there.
The Blackhawks currently find themselves in second place in the Western Conference, in point behind the San Jose Sharks. With Detroits' win last night, it's safer to say who the eight playoff teams are going to be. Detroits' win puts them six points in front of 9th seed Calgary.
A 2nd seed pits the Blackhawks against the 7th seed Colorado Avalanche, but with the top and bottom seeds so close together, the seeds are going to change a considerably amount. The Blackhawks, Sharks, Coyotes are only separated by two points, and that also goes for the bottom four teams.
One team no fan would like to see the Blackhawks play in the first round are the Red Wings, unless who want them to face the monster right away and get it over with, but those people are defiantly in the minority.
All in all the playoff picture isn't clear yet, and with anywhere between 7-9 games left for the contending teams, there's no way to commit to any permanent seeds.