Things could not have gone worse for the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers. Oilers center Sam Gagner, on the other hand, had the best night anyone could have asked for and then some. Gagner scored four goals and handed out four assists in the 8-4 win, tying an Edmonton franchise record held by NHL legends Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey. The performance resonated so much with everyone in the building that Oilers left winger Taylor Hall -- who contributed a career-high four points as well -- wouldn't even take the spotlight off Gagner:
"I feel like a bit of a pigeon with four points tonight," he said. "It was just a crazy night. Every time we got the puck in the offensive zone, especially in the third period, it ended up on Sam's stick and he made a great play with it. I'm really happy I was able to be on the ice with him. It's a really cool moment."
Take as much praise as Ganger deserves, and then double it to get the amount of blame that is headed the Blackhawks' way. Having already labored through an embarrassing 9-2 loss to Edmonton earlier this year, the Hawks entered the third period of this contest down just 4-3, but then completely imploded in the final frame. Ganger scored a hat trick in the third period alone, and Hawks coach Joel Quenneville was forced to give the hook to struggling goaltender Corey Crawford. The outcome could not have been worse, but SB Nation's Blackhawks blog, Second City Hockey, did think the game might have finally marked a watershed moment for the team's tenuous-at-best goaltending situation:
The main conclusion of all this, and it's not even a conclusion, is that the Hawks may be, repeat: may be, at end game withCorey Crawford. Quite simply, his dog-trying-to-grab-a-basketball act tonight cost the Hawks momentum and then the game. Taylor Hall's goal shouldn't have gone in. For the umpteenth time this year, when a player wraps around the net from the circles Crow lost his net, costing the equalizer. It only got worse.
There are only 30 games left. The string of games Crow would need to have confidence rebuilt might simply not be on offer now. Sassone was right, it felt like those games in Columbus in March of both '09 and '10 when Huet melted down and handed the job to Khabibulin and Niemi. Is the job handed to Emery now? The thing is, we know what Emery is. Or we think we do. Maybe it doesn't mean much, but if you take out the two Edmonton games and the Philadelphia loss when the team was basically a Gwar sound check, Emery's save-percentage is .921. So maybe?
Even the faint silver linings can't take the sting off this game, but perhaps some good can come of the situation down the line.
Stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago for more information, and for in-depth analysis on the Chicago Blackhawks be sure to visit Second City Hockey. Visit SB Nation NHL for more news and notes around the league.