Okay, here’s the problem. I said a long while ago that we had better have ourselves a nice cushion before these last three games, because it would take a miracle to get points out of any of them. Remember that?
Start praying for a miracle.
The Blues team we face tonight, despite being out of the playoff race, has given us fits all year. We’re 3-2-0 against them this season, with the consistent theme being third-period let-downs. We have allowed 9 third-period goals in 5 games, most of which were game-winners, take-the-leaders, or allowed the Blues to pull within striking distance of the lead.
For whatever reason, the Blackhawks can’t seem to put in a 60-minute effort against this collection of league-minimum roster-filler with a big-name goaltender behind them. And statistically speaking, their goaltending actually sucks: they are second-last in team save percentage. The Blackhawks should beat this team like a red-headed step-mule, but for some reason they can’t seem to do it.
So that’s tonight’s problem. The weekend’s problem is Detroit (*spitting noise*), and anyone who thinks we are going to take more than a single point in those games is putting a lot more stock in blind luck than I can. We squeaked past the Wings in late March with an OT victory, which means they are going to be looking for some payback. They’re talented, they’re motivated, they hate our living guts, and they’re still feeling the sting of a 10 – 3 loss at the hands of St. Louis a week ago.
We’re in deep doo-doo here, people. Because while the Blackhawks have a nightmare facing them in the next three contests, the team just behind us — Dallas — has a cake-walk. Two games against Colorado, and one against Minnesota. Six easy points, and if we don’t keep pace, we’ll be relying on losses by the teams ahead of us to keep us in the #8 slot.
If you can’t tell, I’m not the least bit optimistic about our chances to make the playoffs. Not the way this Blackhawks team has been playing, not with the obstacles we have in front of us, and not with the other teams in the conference playing the way they are. Nashville has won 8 of their last 10; Anaheim has won 7 of 10, Phoenix 7 of 10. About the only prayer we have for another team slumping their way out of a playoff spot is Los Angeles, but they have a 3-point cushion. This is a mess, and the Blackhawks did it to themselves. It’s going to take a miracle: start praying.
Administrative nonsense: David Perron remains out for the Blues, Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland remain out for the Blackhawks. The injury to Troy Brouwer’s shoulder suffered in last night’s game will apparently keep him out of the lineup tonight; Ben Smith has been recalled from Rockford. Don’t be surprised if you see John Scott in the lineup as well, that’s probably a 50/50 shot given the Blues’ propensity for violence. Likely starting goalies are Jaroslav Halak and Corey Crawford, and if you don’t know which of those two guys plays for which team you shouldn’t be reading this blog.
Early 7:00pm start to accommodate the schmucks on Versus, who have the TV coverage outside of Chicago; all of us here will get Pat (and Eddie?) on Comcast SportsNet. Broadcast radio is WGN AM-720, and XM subscribers can catch the game on channel 208.
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