Bob Verdi's perspective on the Winter Classic was pretty good, I thought.
The Detroit Red Wings, who beat the Blackhawks 6-4 Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field, are the defending Stanley Cup champions. They still look like the best team in hockey to me, which is a hard sentence for any Hawks fan to type. The Wings are what the Hawks hope to become.
There's no doubt in my mind the Blackhawks are eventually going to break into the league's upper echelon. They've come a long way in the last year, but there is still work to be done. Mainly, the Blackhawks need to learn to play a complete game against the top teams.
Look at the matchups with the Wings this year. The Hawks had a 4-2 lead going into the third period on Oct. 25. The result? Detroit rallies for a 6-5 shootout win.
The Hawks had a 4-2 lead going into the third period on Dec. 6. The result? Detroit once again rallies to tie and wins 5-4 in a shootout.
On Thursday, the Blackhawks established control early and gained a 3-1 advantage after Ben Eager (left) scored late in the first period. However, Detroit controlled the play from the start of the second period through the conclusion of the game, resulting in another Wings' victory.
In the second period, the Hawks got away from what made them successful in the early going. They tried to make plays that were not there. They turned the puck over. They weren't getting pucks deep into the Detroit zone. They failed to establish an effective forecheck. They weren't playing physical in their own end. The Red Wings regularly take advantage of lapses like that, and Thursday was no exception.
"It takes a perfect game to beat those guys," Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell said after the game.
Not quite. You don't have to play a perfect game, but you do have to play a complete game. The Hawks have been playing one or two good periods in each of their games with Detroit this season. To win, three good periods are required.