DALLAS -- As the saying goes, no one saw this one coming. Not the players and not the head coach.
“Over the course of the year you might have some games you throw in the garbage can that you don’t see happening or foresee happening,” Joel Quenneville said after his Chicago Blackhawks lost 5-0 to the Dallas Stars on Thursday. “This was definitely one of them. We should all absorb some responsibility of how bad we were today, knowing we can’t ever let it happen again.”
Clunkers do happen, but Quenneville had to go all the way back to games in Calgary earlier in the season to find one that reminded him of the effort the Hawks put forth on Thursday. No emotion, no competitive fire.
“It looked like we all picked the same night to crap the bed,” captain Jonathan Toews bluntly stated. “Could have been the worst night of the year to do that.”
And therein lies the mystery. The Hawks have had a tendency to play down to their opponent, like they did for one period in Florida. But Dallas is nipping on their heels and in fact, earned a tie-breaker edge by beating the Hawks for the third time in four games this season.
“We knew going into this one it could be one of the toughest games of the year and we had one of our worst performances,” Toews said. “I’m not a psychologist. I don’t know why we decided to pack it in like that tonight.”
On offense, the good scoring chances could be counted on one hand. On defense, as Brent Seabrook recounted, they left Corey Crawford on an island, allowing the Stars’ goals on a breakaway, a two-on-one, and a three-on-two.
“We didn’t come out hungry enough,” Seabrook said. “From top to bottom we weren’t very good tonight. They wanted the game more than we did tonight. They battled harder.”
Toews pointed to the leaders in the locker room, including himself, needing to be better and promised they would be.
“We shouldn’t forget about this one too quick,” he said. “We’ll definitely remind ourselves how bad we were and how disappointing our performance was tonight. No excuse for it.”
There is a half-glass full perspective to brace. Maybe after a run of points in 15 of 17 games and being out of only one of those contests, they were due for a bad one. But it better be a blip on the radar and not a storm brewing.
“From my perspective, it’s pretty disappointing for the way we played and the type of effort it seemed we had for such an important game,” goalie Marty Turco said. “It’s over. It’s embarrassing and sad. Move on to the next one.”
The next one is in Phoenix where traditionally the Hawks never have an easy time. And the Coyotes are yet another team fighting with the Hawks for a postseason berth.
“It’s a tough one to explain,” Quenneville reiterated for a third time. “There is nothing good about that game. The importance of [it] was gigantic. We didn’t respect the urgency of what was needed tonight.”
The Hawks better respect the urgency come Sunday or they’ll be back on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.