Updated Nov. 15
To put things into perspective, you first have to remember that last season the Chicago Blackhawks lost only eight games at home.
|Patrick Sharp and the core stars have been doing their part, but consistency has been hard to find. (US Presswire)|
A heavy early schedule is something Chicago might have used to build up a bank of points for later in the season, especially with so many games taking place in their supposed friendly confines. But the Blackhawks haven't really taken advantage. In fact, they needed a last-minute overtime goal Sunday by Dave Bolland just to beat Anaheim and snap their four-game losing streak at the United Center. That got them back to the .500 mark, although these days that's enough for them to be in the middle of the playoff pack.
On the surface Chicago seems like a victim of the Stanley Cup hangover, dealing with the sluggish starts common for champs after a short summer. But in Chicago's case there is the added burden of a lineup purge for salary cap reasons.
The Blackhawks managed to keep their core players around, and some of them like Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and -- before he was injured -- Marian Hossa have done what they should. But there has still been an overall consistency problem and the reality of using new parts to replace the depth and chemistry that existed during the title run has proven more difficult than they expected.
Especially at home. Good thing for the Blackhawks they are playing their next six on the road.
"We're going to stay with it," Toews said. "We're looking at the big picture. That's remembering we're a good team and what we're capable of doing. Good teams go through tough moments. For us, it's coming earlier this year, but we know we're going to be better for it once we get out of it."
We'll see. The rankings through Sunday night's games: