In case you haven’t heard, the Chicago Blackhawks are going through a pretty rough patch right now. A 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators Tuesday night was their 9th in a row.
To make matters worse, the tilt versus the Preds was the 7th of 9 straight road games for Chicago, so they won’t be playing on fresh legs any time soon. Worse, the group staggers into New York to face the NHL-leading Rangers Thursday before ending the road trip Saturday versus the Blue Jackets — perhaps the only time a team has looked forward to playing in Columbus.
When the Blackhawks began this losing streak, they were perched comfortably atop the NHL with 64 points. 9 games later, their 65 points have them dangling perilously on the precipice of the postseason cutoff, only three points up on the 9th-place Calgary Flames.
With a run of haplessness like this, it’s not surprising to hear many calling for drastic changes all across the board. Trade Patrick Kane for Ryan Miller. Fire the coach. Blow up the core. Fire the guy whose job is fire the coach and blow up the core. Reduce the population by one-third. Eat the living.
These are rash decisions, but the best solution might be even more rash: breathe deep, and take a page from the Vancouver Canucks.
In January of 2009, after opening the new year with a win, the Canucks put together a streak of epic haplessness, rattling off 1 win in its next 11 games and, at one point, 8 straight losses. See, Vancouver’s been there, Chicago. They know what you’re going through. The Canucks know all about what it’s like to have the Nashville Predators kick you when you’re down: prior to dealing the Blackhawks their 9th straight loss, the Predators dealt the Canucks their 7th straight on January 28, 2009, in a game that ended 5-3.
Chicago’s biggest issues right now are spotty goaltending and the disappointing play of their captain, but it could be worse: imagine if both were the exact same problem. Roberto Luongo — at that time, the Canucks’ captain — was injured for the beginning of the losing streak, which meant goaltending from the two-headed monster of Curtis Sanford and Jason LaBarbera, who allowed 15 goals in 3 games. Then, Luongo’s return did nothing to stop the bleeding, as the Canucks’ captain surrendered 20 goals over his next 5 games.
Things were dismal. Mason Raymond fought with Willie Mitchell at practice. Mats Sundin just wasn’t working out — Iain MacIntyre called a line of Sundin, Kesler, and Burrows “Two cheetahs and a Snuffleupagus.” Someone in Toronto reported that Alain Vigneault had been fired, a move for which many were calling. Many urged new General Manager Mike Gillis to blow up the rest of the team like the roof of Nakatomi Plaza Building.
Instead, Gillis stayed the course, gave the team a vote of confidence, and rode it out. Eventually, the unnaturally clutch Alex Burrows put the streak out to pasture with a breakaway goal versus Carolina:
As it turned out, the team wasn’t as bad as the streak had made them look. The Canucks rewarded Gillis for his trust in them by going 23-7-2 over the remaining two months of the season, winning the Northwest Division and sweeping the St. Louis Blues in the first round before falling in the second round to the Chicago Bla — oh. Riiiiiiiiight.
On second thought, I hope the Blackhawks never win again.Tags: Chicago Blackhawks, epic losing streaks, Rivalry