Niklas Hjalmarsson was traded by general manager Stan Bowman in the offseason. It was a move that the current Chicago Blackhawks general manager probably regrets.
Hjalmarsson was a warrior for the Hawks for many years and helped the team win three Stanley Cups. Given the Hawks issues on defense this season, Hjalmarsson has been sorely missed. Coach Joel Quenneville had high praise for him prior to his teams game against the Arizona Coyotes.
“Hammer’s’ a real good defenseman. … Plays big the bigger the setting. Obviously there’s a void with him but at the same time a lot of opportunity out there.”
In 10 seasons with the Hawks, Hjalmarsson blocked 1,186 shots (no that is not a misprint). My body hurts just typing that sentence. If that statistic doesn’t describe Hjalmarsson’s play during his time in Chicago, I don’t know what does. Sure, he is above 30, but the Hawks could have used him this season and on Monday night.
Like Saturday, the Hawks found themselves down early, 2-0 to be exact. It was a pair of turnovers that led to the early deficit. Oesterle, who has actually been one of the few bright spots this season, gave up the puck behind the Hawks’ net. To be successful in hockey, you have to do the little things right.
For whatever reason, the Hawks haven’t been able to do just that. It’s frustrating and the captain Jonathan Toews expressed it after the loss to the Minnesota Wild.
“Running out of words to say,” said Toews.
Goalie Corey Crawford, who hasn’t been on the ice since Christmas time, is looking forward to returning and playing hockey. However, it may be in the Hawks best interest to shut Crawford down for the year and see what they have in Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass.
Both have been disappointing as of late, and that trend continued Monday. Forsberg was pulled after letting up three goals on just 13 shots. Glass wasn’t much better in the second period after he let up a goal because he was unable to locate the puck on a rebound.
Remember, Bowman thought he found his next back up goalie in Forsberg when he made the trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets. That will go down as another failed move. He has been consistently bad this season and it doesn’t look like he’ll ever turn it around.
After it was all said and done, the Hawks lost 6-1 to one of the worst hockey teams in the NHL. They dropped to .500 for the first time in February since 02-13-2008. Things can’t get much worse, right? Wrong. The Hawks will play one of the best teams in all of the NHL on Tuesday night in the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
Patrick Kane weighed in on this frustrating time for the Hawks.
“It’s been a tough little while here. We’re just trying to find something to build off of and we just can’t do it right now, so it’s been frustrating.”
This is what rock bottom feels like, folks.