The Blackhawks Need To Play Better Defense

Since trading James Wisniewski things have gone downhill fast

Back on March 4th the Blackhawks were 36-17-9 and feeling rather comfortable locked into the fourth spot of the Western Conference.  The team then traded defenseman James Wisniewski to the Anaheim Ducks for center Sami Pahlsson, a center who had been out for months with mononucleosis and didn't make his debut for the team until Wednesday night's overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

There wasn't much made of the trade at the time, it just seemed like a small move to give the team somebody with playoff experience who could also help win a big faceoff from time to time, an area the Hawks have struggled with all season.  While Wisniewski was somewhat popular amongst the Hawks fan base, nobody seemed to concerned about losing his presence on the blue line.

Well, while it can't all be attributed to the absence of Wisniewski, the Hawks are 1-5-1 since making the trade and have fallen to fifth in the West behind the Vancouver Canucks.  They've also been giving up an average of four goals a game during that span, which isn't very conducive to winning hockey.

Since the Wisniewski trade the Hawks defense has been sloppy, and though some of the blame also falls on the less than inspiring play of Cristobal Huet and a rusty Nikolai Khabibulin, they just haven't been getting much help in front of them.  Opponents are getting a lot of odd-man rushes thanks to defenseman coming up too far on offense -- we're looking squarely at you, Brian Campbell and your -11 rating since the trade -- and it looks as though heavy minute guys like Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are playing on some tired legs.

This is not what coach Quenneville wants to see with the playoffs just around the corner.  March is a time when playoff teams are supposed to start tightening up their defense, and the Hawks are doing the opposite right now.  While we aren't sure what the answer is to the team's defensive struggles right now is, we do know that this team better figure it out fast.  Thankfully they've got a five-game homestand to work out the kinks, and it's always easier to play at home.

Still, if they don't solve the problem, a season that started with so much promise could fizzle out all too early with a one and done in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Along with writing for, Tom Fornelli can also be found contributing at FanHouse, SPORTSbyBROOKS, and his own Chicago sports blog Foul Balls.  He is still committed to the Indian.

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