CHICAGO – After watching the Edmonton Oilers score four goals in 10-minute span Sunday, a Blackhawks fan screamed a question from the upper deck late in the first period.
“How much time is left in this terrible period?!?” the fan said.
His timing was perfect.
“One minute remaining in the period,” public-address announcer Gene Honda responded. “One minute.”
Not a minute too soon, Hawks players retreated to their locker room facing a 4-0 deficit.
When they returned to the ice, they looked like their familiar selves.
Long story short: The Hawks lost, 6-5, to the Edmonton Oilers. They started card-table flat, made a breathtaking comeback bid, but ultimately ran out of time.
Now, the Hawks have lost two consecutive games. They are 21-2-3 on the season.
All of those ESPN and Sports Illustrated and Wall Street Journal reporters who filled the press box in recent games have packed their laptop bags and headed elsewhere. Once the streak – I mean The Streak – ended Friday in Colorado, the Hawks lost some national sizzle.
Too bad. All of those news outlets are missing out on a good development in the story.
It’s official. The Hawks are human.
I was starting to wonder.
Humans have bad days, and the Hawks finally have had a couple. That’s fine. Even a shortened regular season is a long season, and disappointing losses are inevitable.
Give Hawks players credit for having the right approach to their recent cold spell. Just because you have a hiccup doesn’t mean you need CPR.
Take this exchange between Patrick Kane and a reporter after the game.
“You haven’t faced adversity as far as losing this season,” a serious-looking reporter said. “How do you expect this team to respond?”
Kane tried, and failed, to stifle a chuckle.
“You know what, it’s two games, so we can’t get too ahead of ourselves here,” Kane said. “But, we’ve had a great season to date. And we feel we have a really good team in here that can do some special things.”
Good for Kane for chuckling.
Outside of the locker room, some might question the Hawks’ recent defensive breakdowns. Corey Crawford was yanked from Friday’s start after allowing five goals on 19 shots, and Ray Emery was yanked from Sunday’s start after giving up three goals on eight shots.
But the Hawks’ goaltenders are not entirely to blame for the recent binge in goals allowed, just as they weren’t the sole reason for the team’s defensive success during The Streak. And the Hawks’ offense is as potent as ever, as proved by their five goals in the final two periods against Edmonton.
Even if I wanted to press the panic button, I’m not sure that I would be able to find it.
Maybe it’s next to where the Zambonis are parked? Maybe it’s on top of the scoreboard? What if it’s frozen underneath the faceoff circle at center ice, hidden in plain sight?
Regardless, the Hawks will be fine.
Jonathan Toews agreed.
By the way, this is the same guy who is nicknamed “Captain Serious.”
“We didn’t get a point or we didn’t get two points tonight, but considering where we put ourselves [after the first period], we didn’t give up,” Toews said with a matter-of-fact tone. “We tried to come back, and we put them on their heels in the second half of the game. …
“We’ll learn from this when we get back at it later on this week.”
I believe him.
It’s rare for Hawks players to have to sit around after a game and discuss a loss.
It’s not something they want to become a habit.
“It was weird after the first one,” Kane said. “Now, we’ve got to be careful not to get too down on ourselves – especially after the start we had.
“We did something really special, and no one can ever take that away from you. We’re very happy with the start to the season. We’ve just kind of got to regroup here and get back to that mentality of not wanting to lose.”
They already have that mentality.
They’ll be fine.
• Northwest Herald sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @tcmusick.