The 5-0 loss the Chicago Blackhawks endured Thursday night was tough to watch. The 'Hawks played very flat, both offensively and especially defensively. The loss came as a shock to fans, the players and even the 'Hawks coaches.
Once a team plays their worst and loses a game like this, people want explanations. The most common I have seen is the 'Hawks were playing, for the first time all season, without their regular 20 skaters. This forced a change in the lines, affecting the natural chemistry the lines had been exhibiting the past few weeks.
While the I can't deny the horrors of Thursday's game, I can't believe that this loss spells doom for them.
The Dallas Stars have played the 'Hawks well this season. So it should come as no surprise to anyone how well Dallas played Thursday. All of the 'Hawks picked a day to really play flat, and it was exploited to the fullest.
The worst thing that came out of this loss was Dallas earning a tiebreaker against the 'Hawks. That means that if the 'Hawks and the Stars finish the season with the same amount of points, the Stars will get the higher spot in the standings. This could be fatal for the 'Hawks if the two teams tie for eighth place.
Add the fact that every team, besides the Los Angeles Kings, battling for a playoff spot in the Western Conference won, and you could be put into a glum mood.
Are the 'Hawks doomed because of this loss?
While I do think that's unfortunate, the 'Hawks have played well enough to believe that they will not end up in a situation that will keep them out of the playoffs.
How many times has EVERY 'Hawk player played like that? Not many. In fact, the 'Hawks have only been shut out once this season, and that was against the Vancouver Canucks on Dec. 3. So the likelihood of another performance like this is little to none.
The 'Hawks' schedule next week gives them chances to make up for the loss. They play the Phoenix Coyotes, Florida Panthers and Anaheim Ducks. Florida and Anaheim are two easily winnable games, while Phoenix could give the 'Hawks more trouble.
The fact that it shocked the players as well as the coaches implies the team is eager to make up for their flat play. Determination is always an X-factor in any situation, giving the team with it the upper hand.
The 'Hawks should have more determination than any other team they play. They are the defending Stanley Cup champions and a failure to make the playoffs after such a historic season would be embarrassing, because they know, as do we, that they are a better team than that.
The 'Hawks will most likely be back to their regular 20-man lineup they've done well with the past few weeks on Sunday. Brian Campbell is the only exception to that.
While the loss was a terrible one, it was just one loss. The 'Hawks have 11 games left to make up for it, and expect them to do just that.