Mike Smith sold his soul to the Demon Child on the lower left in exchange for his first NHL goal.

Mike Smith sold his soul to the Demon Child on the lower left in exchange for his first NHL goal.

It’s hard to put a lot of stock in that one. I can’t remember the last time an actual hockey game felt secondary to other external events like this. Patrick Kane’s absence, the Olympic break, Brandon Pirri’s demotion to Rockford and the Peter Regin deal all seemed to converge to make the last game of this road-trip a tedious afterthought.

A needless Brandon Bollig penalty less than a minute into the game resulted in a Keith Yandle goal that ended up being the game-winner. Arizona (I’m making the switch early) rarely offered the ‘Hawks any space to work with and Mike Smith was there to shut the door for them when they did. The ‘Hawks cleary got screwed on the second Arizona goal where Corey Crawford was clearly high sticked, but their failure to produce a goal and the cartoonish sequence of events which led to the second Arizona tally makes getting angry about it feel pointless. The Blackhawks were a team in transition tonight and the Coyotes were able to make the most of their power play opportunities. That’s pretty much the story.

This trip out west could have gone a lot smoother, but it also had the potential to become a complete nightmare and didn’t. Hopefully the California stage provided you with some optimism if you’re feeling jittery about their ability to match up with the best teams in the Western Conference.

The Blackhawks will finish no less than three points behind the Ducks in the President’s Trophy race going into the Olympic break. St. Louis plays Winnipeg on Saturday night and can pull even with the Blackhawks in points with a win. However, the Blues would have three games in hand. That makes the Blackhawks at worst the third best team in the NHL.

Bonus Rounds!!!!:

– Q said after the game that he would look to rest veteran players down the stretch. It seems a little odd to institute the practice so late in the season, no? The schedule in March is scary and I don’t know that I believe they’ll rest guys if they’re in an all out war with St. Louis for home ice.

– Peter Regin, not to be confused with former President Reagan’s Chief of Staff Donald Regan, didn’t really stand out much other than his surprising appearance on the power play. He certainly never felt like a liability, so I guess that’s good?

– This loss wasn’t on Corey Crawford. He was blatantly interfered with on the second goal and was screened on the first. Both of the goals he surrendered came via the power play. Two goals against is usually enough to earn at least a point with this Blackhawks team. Either way, Crawford’s performance on the trip seems to have repaired most of the damage to his standing with the fan-base as the starting goaltender.

– I can’t agree with the people contesting the Saad penalty. Railroading a goalie is plainly a violation of the rules. On top of this, Michal Rozsival manages to pick up an unsportsmanlike conduct during the stoppage following the Saad call. Of course, old friend Radim Vrbata was right there to make sure the ‘Hawks paid for their idiocy.

– Brandon Bollig was benched for most of the opening period and played just 5:22 all night. His slew foot (tripping) penalty put the ‘Hawks behind the eight ball right off the bat and is a pretty horrible thing to do to someone in your Union.

– Bartl, Adam and I are getting together for a podcast this weekend. We’ll do a midseason recap and touch on all of the stuff listed in the top paragraph of this recap. It could be a long oneā€¦.