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It's going from bad to worse for Hawks' Huet
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff

Blackhawks goaltender Cristobal Huet allowed 2 deflating goals in the Hawks' 4-3 loss Saturday.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 10/19/2009 12:00 AM

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Cristobal Huet believes what's going on with his game at the moment is "just a bump in the road," as he put it.

But to the Blackhawks, it might not be that simple.

This is a team built to contend for the Stanley Cup right now, but Huet's poor start has everyone who isn't inside the Hawks' dressing room wondering if general manager Stan Bowman and coach Joel Quenneville have the goalie to match the formidable talent that is up front and on defense.

If Huet thought it couldn't get any worse for him in the eyes of the fans who pack the United Center after he allowed 3 goals on 5 shots and was pulled seven minutes into last Monday's game against Calgary, it did Saturday night.

Huet gave up 2 bad and team-deflating goals in the Hawks' 4-3 loss to Dallas in a game they dominated for the most part.

The eventual game-winning goal by Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas at 10:37 of the third period was the worst.

Robidas' dump-in from just inside the red line was headed around the glass when the puck hit something, deflected toward the goal, bounced and slipped into the net between the post and Huet, who instead of getting to the post quicker was giving directions to his teammates.

"It's kind of a bad bounce," Huet said. "I know if I go on my post I have a chance to hit the puck and that little hesitation, that's exactly what happened. It took another funny bounce right before it came to me."

"Strangest goal I've ever had in the National Hockey League," Robidas said.

So what do the Hawks do now with Huet ahead of their next game against Vancouver on Wednesday?

While Antti Niemi almost certainly will start against the Canucks, the questions surrounding Huet are long term.

Do the Hawks keep playing Huet and hope he finds his game?

Do they send him to Rockford to work things out? Huet would need to clear waivers to be sent down, but it's highly unlikely another team would claim him with two years left on his contract after this one at $5.625 million per season.

These are decisions for Bowman and his advisers to kick around, if they aren't doing so already.

One thing to keep in mind if the Hawks should decide to sent Huet to the minors at any point this season: They would be required to keep paying him his NHL salary, but the $5.625 million cap hit comes off the books.

Following a day off on Sunday, the Hawks will be back at practice today and Quenneville no doubt will be asked what his plans are for Huet this week.

"We've got a couple practices before Wednesday's game," Quenneville said. "I think goalies have stretches when they're on highs and they have tough stretches.

"We'll see how he is. He's a battler and he's a competitive guy. Everybody has pride and would like to redeem himself either next game or wherever. We're open to discuss it, but certainly he would love to get back out there and play."

It's the soft goals by Huet that have been killing the Hawks since the opening game against Florida in Finland.

"Obviously, we know how goaltending gets looked upon and gets evaluated," Quenneville said. "I think he'd like to be better and we're looking for him to improve as well. It's still early in the year and hopefully he gets that confidence and gets on a roll."

Huet didn't sound like a goalie who expected to start against the Canucks.

"We'll see what's going on," Huet said. "I have no control on that. Hopefully I can go back and redeem myself, but we'll see."