Ugly Loss in Chicago: Benching Causes Head Scratching

Dec 23, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Kirill Marchenko (86) after scoring against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 23, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Kirill Marchenko (86) after scoring against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Blue Jackets dropped their sixth straight game on Friday night, by a 5-2 margin in Chicago. The last game before Christmas did not go well for the Jackets, who trailed early and never looked to be in the game aside from a short stretch early in the third period. Another disappointing effort from the club has us wondering: where do we go from here?

Losing in Chicago 4 or 5 years ago, would not have been a big deal at all. This was one of the NHL’s dynasty teams for the 2010’s, winning multiple Stanley Cups on the backs of players like Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. But while the latter two are still there, they’re on the back end of their careers and really can’t be considered superstar talent any longer.

In fact, the Hawks as a whole are downright terrible. Coming into the game, their 7-20-4 record (18pts) was dead last out of all 32 teams in the NHL. They had only won one game since November 14th – a stretch of 17 games.

Dec 23, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (70) defends against Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) during the third period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 23, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (70) defends against Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) during the third period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /

The Jackets rolled into Chicago mired in a 5-game losing streak of their own, but they had been playing pretty well against some stiff competition. This one seemed like a winnable game from this team, something to help them enter the holiday break on a high instead of a low.

But as they have done so many times this season, they fell flat on their faces. There was no energy to start the game. Then came the turnovers, ugly and often. It was 2-0 quickly, and suddenly the Hawks looked like the 2013 Hawks again. By the time the team actually woke up and decided to play a hockey game, after Daniil Tarasov was pulled midway through the second, it was already out of reach at 4-0.

Dec 23, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) celebrates with teammates after he scored a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 23, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) celebrates with teammates after he scored a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /

I feel comfortable saying that this is one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen from this team. It ranks right up there with the 9-4 loss against Buffalo a few weeks ago. They were uninspired and looked like they didn’t belong … against one of the worst teams in the NHL.

When you’re getting walked by one of the only two teams in the league behind you in the standings, you have to again ask yourself some hard questions. Everyone talks about the players showing up and performing, and that certainly is a problem here. But what’s causing them to not show up consistently?