The Chicago Blackhawks' 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks was a tough loss for fans to swallow for many reasons. The 'Hawks fell to eighth place in the Western Conference behind Anaheim and one point in front of Calgary.
Anaheim now has the tiebreaker over the 'Hawks, just as they did after the loss to Dallas on March 17, taking the season series after Saturday night's win.
Anaheim is a much tougher team than the 'Hawks—and it showed Saturday. They won by limiting the first line's productivity. Patrick Kane is an easy target on the first line. Anaheim kept putting the body on him, disrupting the timing of the first line while limiting its productivity.
Teams are finding out that if you stop the first line, you can stop the offense altogether.
For Blackhawks fans, it's a scary truth. The lack of depth might ultimately doom any playoff chance or run. Having a banged up first line (Patrick Sharp is out indefinitely) doesn't help. Even though Sharp hopes to return before the end of the season, they need to find some help and productivity from the bottom lines.
The lack of depth is something that has haunted the 'Hawks all season long, and it doesn't seem to have fixed itself at all this year.
As for the future, the 'Hawks have a very tough two-game schedule next week. On Monday they play Detroit, and on Tuesday they play Boston. These two games could easily mean three straight losses—something that needs to be avoided at all costs for a team on the playoff bubble.
On a more positive note, Corey Crawford continues to play extremely well in net, and Chris Campoli looks like a great fit (even though he isn't the power play-killing defenseman we hoped the 'Hawks would get at the trade deadline.) I still like the guy and I hope he remains with the 'Hawks after this year.
The season is winding down and with 74 games in, a playoff spot—and many questions—still remain. It hasn't been a season of answers. But boy, do we have a crazy two weeks ahead of us.