No Boxing tonight, as I was out celebrating my Dad’s birthday and, well, I’m lucky to be getting this post up as it is. Wednesday night, you’ll have your Boxing.

(Jamie Sabau, Getty Images)

Shit happens, eh?

Call it a measuring-stick game, if you will. A game in mid-December on the first night of an away-home back-to-back in an inter-conference matchup doesn’t quite qualify for me. Much like the contest against Minnesota didn’t qualify as well.

No matter what happened tonight, we knew both teams would still be contenders. If the ‘Hawks lost 6-0, would we be flipping out that they’re never going to compete for the Stanley Cup? Would we forget about the 21 victories and throw them away? Are we about to do that now?

I understand this Blackhawks team has plenty of questions marks. I more than believe there’s plenty more they need to improve on in order to be clear-cut Western Conference favorites.

More than anything, I never expected to have these Blackhawks “figured out” by mid-December. And if you did, then you need to reassess. What we know, and still know, after tonight: The Blackhawks are good enough to contend for the Stanley Cup. And that vague, borderline assessment is exactly how I expected to feel at this point in the season.

After the 3-2 loss in Pittsburgh, a few things stood out to me, mainly as I began accepting certain things…

1) John Scott is not going anywhere. Unless I want to keep writing the same exact thing over and over again, I’m going to have to accept that. He did what he was supposed to do tonight, and that was come to the defense of Marcus Kruger after a disgustingly dirty hit, then whooped some ass. The rest of the night? No, nothing spectacular. But if we’re going to bitch at him for taking the instigator penalty when he did the only thing anyone feels he’s worth a damn for, we can’t fault him for it – even if the ensuing power play led to a goal. Granted, he has no right to suit up in my opinion no matter what. But to his credit, he did was he was supposed to do. That won’t happen very often, but it was actually nice to see.

2) Just because this loss came to a Pittsburgh team that was missing some key players, it doesn’t change my opinion of a ‘Hawks team that has gone 9-2-1 over the last 12 games. Unfortunately, the ‘Hawks are going to lose to some games. Would you rather witness a loss to Columbus or Pittsburgh? It would almost take a complete bed-wetting to lose to Columbus, and I would probably be typing curse words right now like they were any other.

In this case, the ‘Hawks were slow out of the gates, but came on in the third period in a tough place to play and had a chance to steal at least a point at the end. If the Blackhawks are going to lose games, give me a loss like this any day of the week. They got beat, and that’s going to happen sometimes against good teams.

3) It’s highly unlikely Ray Emery starts against Montreal, but he played a large role in the ‘Hawks being able to have a chance in this game. Emery is doing everything he’s been asked of doing, including not being an asshole and campaigning to be No 1 for the rest of the year. He taken his chance and has been riding with it. However long it lasts is more than fine with me – even if he has a bad game.

4) I disagree with Viktor Stalberg’s notion that the Blackhawks “handed them two points.” Pittsburgh did what good teams do – take advantage of opportunities. The Penguins flat out beat the ‘Hawks for two periods simply because they looked like the better team. Pittsburgh played well for 40 minutes, the ‘Hawks for 20. The Blackhawks simply got beat, and I feel like Stalberg was taking some credit away from Pittsburgh, which I don’t feel is appropriate.

5) Jonathan Toews is the best player in the game right now, and watching him is pure pleasure. To steal the spotlight with Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp on the team is something special. It’s a shame he can’t win games all by himself.

Bottom line, getting too low about this one game simply doesn’t make sense to me. Every loss sucks, but let’s not panic over losing to a good team on the road. If you went back and looked at the schedule at the beginning of the month, did you mark the ‘Hawks down for a W for this one, whether or not Sidney Crosby was in the lineup? I don’t know how many people I’d believe if they told me they did. In reality this game was a loss that was… well, maybe not expected, but at least accepted.

Jim and I were talking Saturday, and he said the Pittsburgh game made him nervous. I responded by telling him a game in mid-December cannot and will not ever make me nervous. I understand it was the Penguins, and I understand some wanted to use that term of “measuring-stick game.”

Sorry, I don’t buy that with 48 games still left to play in this long, long season. Move on, head home, and get prepared for the train wreck that is the Montreal Canadiens.