There are two ways a team can respond to a lengthy road trip like the 13-day North American trek the Blackhawks just endured. They can return home and they can look like a refreshed team after some much needed home cooking. Or they can look like a team that has been away from home from two weeks and play a listless and unenthusiastic game.
The Chicago Blackhawks opted for Door #2 on Tuesday night. It outcomes was just about what you’d expect it be. By the time the dust settled, the Phoenix Coyotes were walking away with a dominating 4-1 victory. It wasn’t as close as score makes it sound either.
It’s not like this is the first time the Hawks have had to endure their annual “Circus Trip.” This should be something they’re used to. After a pair of wins in southern California over the Thanksgiving weekend, they looked like a team that was worthy of the top spot in the Western Conference. But somewhere on that flight from LA to Chicago, they must have forgotten what made them successful.
The Hawks looked like the hard-working team that just about everyone fears in the 3rd period of the game in Anaheim on Friday. They continued the hard work during their suffocating 2-1 victory on Saturday in Los Angeles, but none of the hard-work present in Tuesday night’s game. The Coyotes were the faster team that looked like they “wanted it” more all game. The Hawks may not have brought their best effort, but the Coyotes certainly didn’t let them off the hook. They took the game to the Hawks for 60 minutes.
Fans in Chicago can chalk up the loss to the normal psychological letdown from a long road trip. Over the weekend, they looked like a team that new the end of the long road trip was in sight. They were in the homestretch and played like a team that wanted to finish it on a strong note. But Tuesday showed a team that wasn’t ready to bring the same level of intensity. Luckily for fans in Chicago, they’ll have a few days to refocus their game before the New York Islanders make their way to United Center on Friday night.
Chances are we’ll see a team with a little more energy on Friday night. That’s probably not what the Islanders wanted to hear.