The city of Chicago was enraged this afternoon when the Detroit Red Wings dismantled the Chicago Blackhawks 6-1 in the United Center, putting the Blackhawks in a 3-1 hole with the series heading back to Detroit.
Their rage was understandable, as the Blackhawks lost all the momentum gained from game three by playing flat, making foolish mistakes and not capitalizing on any of their very few opportunities.
But while the short-term feeling is frustration over the performance of Cristobel Huet, the dumb penalties by Kris Versteeg and the disappearing act by Patrick Kane, fans need to put this team into perspective and realize what we really have here.
Sure, it would have been great to beat the Red Wings (yes, I’m officially writing off the series right here and now), but there’s no way — NO WAY — this team declines in the coming years. Even if Nikolai Khabibulin and Martin Havlat bolt for free agency in the offseason, there is no way this experience does not help the likes of Kane, Versteeg, Jonathan Toews, etc.
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com used an analogy before the series started that this matchup was reminiscent of the Bulls-Pistons battle in 1990, a year before Michael Jordan and the Bulls won their first title. Those Pistons were bigger, better and more experienced, but a year later those same Bulls broke through and a dynasty was born.
This Red Wings squad is old, scrappy and has more experience than any team in the NHL. It’s impossible to not see it on the ice, as the Blackhawks struggled on a possession-by-possession basis to get the puck into Red Wing territory. The Wings’ defense was that good.
But the likes of Nik Lindstrom and Henrik Zetterberg won’t be around forever, and really, what other team in the NHL has as much upside as the ‘Hawks right now? If and when the Wings decline, and it’s bound to happen eventually, the Blackhawks have the potential to be the cream of the crop in the Western Conference for a long, long time.
Kane and Toews seem to love it here, the city is rejuvinated, and the team has a core they can keep around for many, many years.
So while Blackhawks fans pout over the horrible (and it was really beyond horrible) game four performance Sunday, they need to keep things in perspective. We’ve got a good thing here in Chicago and it’s likely to stay for a long time.