Chicago Blackhawks: 2011 Begins with Uncertainty

Tyler JuranovichCorrespondent IIIDecember 31, 2010

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 30: Marian Hossa #81 of the Chicago Blackhawks skates up the ice against the San Jose Sharks at the United Center on December 30, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Sharks defeated the Blackhawks 5-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Thursday night's game against the San Jose Sharks ended in 5-3 fashion, but what scared me the most was seeing the Blackhawks blow another close fought game. 

It's been one of the worst story lines of the year. Third periods have been hell for the Hawks. They've given up 47 goals in the third period-easily running away with that award this season. This one seemed to hurt even worse. 

The Hawks scored two very late goals in the second period. Momentum was on their side. It looked like the Hawks would beat the Sharks and former-Hawk, Antti Niemi, for the first time this season. 

As soon as the third began, the Hawks' momentum seemed already gone. The team is missing Jonathan Toews, and the way they played without him Thursday, makes me scared to watch the other six or so games they'll have to play without him. 

Face-offs won is a very underrated stat in the NHl, and Toews has a very high win percentage(59.6). Offensive plays can be completely shattered if your team loses the face-off. Not only does Toews create goals and assists, but he also creates chances from the face-offs he wins. 

With that loss, the new year begins almost exactly how this season started for the Hawks. 

With uncertainty. 

The Hawks are sitting at 8th in the Western Conference, the last seed to make the playoffs. It's a very scary thought for a team who won the Stanley Cup last season. 

Worse, they have, in many cases, two-three games on other teams, meaning they've played more games than most of the other teams in the Western Conference. 

It's going to be a upwards journey this new year, one that will test how the team responds to the lost of their captain at the worst possible time. Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, and Patrick Sharp, as well as others will have to, once again, step up play and that means not blowing games, and especially not when they can get a point instead of none. 

It's also Joel Quenneville's responsibility to give his team the best chance to succeed, and I believe that lies in letting Corey Crawford get most of the starts in net this season. 

While I still have faith in Turco, Crawford obviously gives the Hawks a better chance to win.Crawford seems more poised, and acts more like a confident, NHL goaltender. 

Happy New Years Hawk fans!