On the surface, there's not too much to complain about. The Blackhawks are leading their division, which would guarantee a top three seed if the playoffs started today. They're sitting at the very good record of 16-8-3, which is good for 36 points and second place in the Western Conference. They'd also be tied for second in the NHL with Pittsburgh if you want to look at it that way. So, take all this with a grain of salt, I suppose is what I'm getting at. Still, this has not been the same team since the circus trip. They were dominating the league until they hit that extended road trip.
It all started off promising enough. They avenged a pretty bad loss by taking care of Vancouver in Canada. That's when the trouble started. They lost on back to back nights to Calgary and Edmonton, neither of which would be playoff teams if the season ended today. They beat a woeful Anaheim team in a goalfest, 6-5, and then eked out a win against a solid L.A. team, 2-1. That led to a 4-1 beating by the Coyotes, a shootout win over the woeful Islanders, a surprisingly good win against St. Louis, and then a shoot out loss again to Phoenix.
So, was the record that bad? No, not really. Was it a lot harder to get to than it should have been? God yes. Did they play good teams? No, not really. The Kings would be the last team into the playoffs, Phoenix is currently leading their division, but I don't expect that to last. The Ducks and Islanders are, as indicated earlier, not doing well at all. The Blues have been very hot since switching coaches. They're easily the most quality team the Blackhawks beat over this stretch.
The last game against the Coyotes is a good example of what I'm getting at. Corey Crawford did not have his best stuff, giving up three quick goals in the first period. The Blackhawks had nothing going offensively. In comes Ray Emory, and Chicago flips the script in the second period, scoring three of their own goals. They had the puck on the Coyotes end most of the third period, including what really should have Marian Hossa's 400th career goal. I still can't believe he didn't score this.