Photo: AP

Corey Crawford was pulled less than half-way through the game against Dallas, giving up 3 goals on 10 shots. And it wasn’t his fault.

The first goal against Crawford was a stretch-pass breakaway that caught our defensemen wandering around the tops of the circles as Brad Richards sprung Steve Ott up the middle of the ice. 1 – 0 Dallas.

The second goal was caused by Brent Seabrook pinching in deep and two Dallas forwards jumping across the blueline. Another stretch pass, a failed sprawling pass-block attempt by Duncan Keith, and it’s 2 – 0 Dallas. The third goal was a 3-on-2 that turned into a 4-on-3, 3 – 0 Dallas.

Make no mistake about it: this was planned. Dallas had our number, and our number was odd.

There are (generally) two categories of defensemen. “Puck-moving” defensemen, who more often than not are willing to jump into the attacking zone to contribute on offense; and “stay-at-home” defensemen, whose only concern is preventing players from shooting on their goaltender.

The Blackhawks’ roster looks like this: Niklas Hjalmarsson, stay-at-home defenseman; Brent Seabrook, kind of a hybrid, about 50/50; Duncan Keith, Chris Campoli, Brian Campbell, Nick Leddy — ALL puck-moving defensemen. Dallas Head Coach Marc Crawford watched the tape, and did the math. He knew that our guys have a habit of pinching in from the point, and he told his forwards to hang shallow, cherry-pick and look for the odd-man rush.

It worked.

The other half of the game was the fact that apart from two or three stretches in the first period, the Blackhawks looked like the kids who get picked last in gym. Shoddy defense, pathetic back-checking, highlight-reel pass attempts that failed miserably, stupid plays in their own zone. It was a clinic in how to lose a game 5 – 0. And what do you know? They lost 5 – 0. It goes without saying that continuing at this level of play will cause the Blackhawks’ playoff hopes to disappear faster than Charlie Sheen’s career.

Other games from around the Western Conference last night: Detroit beat Columbus, Nashville over Boston, Calgary won over Colorado, Phoenix downed Edmonton, St. Louis managed to blank Los Angeles (rather unexpected), and San Jose edged Minnesota. Yesterday’s results caused a slight re-shuffling of the playoff picture, which now looks like this: Blackhawks are tied with the Stars for 6th, but Dallas gets every possible tie-breaker advantage against us — thanks to last night’s loss — so we currently sit 7th.

Jeff is on assignment, so no ‘Boxing’ today, as I am considerably less wizard-like with the PhotoShop techniques. No practice for the ‘Hawks either, so very little will be forthcoming in the way of news. Like who the hell is to blame for putting us down a man in an important game because Bryan Bickell gets ill. Stan does know we have a farm team, right?

Next game is a Sunday evening affair in the desert, as we visit Phoenix — another team we will need to knock down a few notches if we are going to make the playoffs. We’ll have your preview here at BlackhawkUp. See you then!

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