Brent Seabrook

Message received? Following healthy scratch, Brent Seabrook scores in return to Blackhawks lineup

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USA TODAY

Message received? Following healthy scratch, Brent Seabrook scores in return to Blackhawks lineup

It was a weird sight to see Brent Seabrook sitting in a suite as a healthy scratch on Tuesday when the Blackhawks faced the Senators in Ottawa.

But things were back to normal for Seabrook on Wednesday when he returned to the lineup against the Minnesota Wild.

Despite a 2-1 loss at the United Center, Seabrook scored the Blackhawks' lone goal in the first period. It was his first goal since the first game of the season.

Message received?

Coach Joel Quenneville said making decisions like sitting the three-time Stanley Cup winner isn't an easy one, but Seabrook responded by getting on the scoresheet.

"Nice to see some production from the back end," Quenneville said.

Following a Blackhawks trade that sent forward Richard Panik to the Arizona Coyotes in a four-player deal, Quenneville opted to roll with seven defensemen on Wednesday. His thoughts after the game?

"I think we tried seven D a couple times," Quenneville said. "I don't know if it's the greatest thing for us."

The Blackhawks will be gaining a forward on Friday, however. It appears that Anthony Duclair — one of two players acquired in the trade — may be making his Blackhawks debut on Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets.

You can catch that game on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app.

Brent Seabrook a healthy scratch for Blackhawks' tilt with Senators

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USA TODAY

Brent Seabrook a healthy scratch for Blackhawks' tilt with Senators

Brent Seabrook won't be playing Tuesday night when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators.

The veteran defenseman is a healthy scratch for Tuesday's game, per Mark Lazerus of the Sun-Times.

While Seabrook, who wears an "A" for the Blackhawks, played a crucial role on three Stanley Cup teams, his production has dipped dramatically recently. Halfway through the 2017-18 campaign, he has just 11 points. His previous career low in a full season is 24, which happened more than a decade ago.

Fans have been quick to criticize the 32-year-old — who's under contract through the 2023-24 season — during a campaign in which the Blackhawks are currently on the outside looking in of the Western Conference playoff picture. Though it appears the reality of his performance is no secret to him, as he told Lazerus that he needs to be better.

Seabrook has just one goal on the season. It came in the season-opening win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. He's tallied just six assists since the end of October.

Starving for goals, Blackhawks need to show hunger to break out of losing stretch

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Starving for goals, Blackhawks need to show hunger to break out of losing stretch

When the Blackhawks began training camp in September, the goal was clear. It didn’t matter how many points they had in the 2016-17 regular season; the abrupt postseason end was ugly, stunning and forgettable. From the start this season, they had to play hungry hockey.

“A big part of what we gotta do here is get to the playoffs, and you’ve got to have a good regular season,” Brent Seabrook said when camp began. “The playoffs last year didn’t sit well with me, and I’m sure it didn’t sit well with a lot of other guys that were here. So we’re going to be ready to roll right off the start, and we want to get in a good position to have the best spot we can for the playoffs.”

In the Blackhawks’ first two regular-season games that hunger was evident. They were relentless, confident and seemingly scoring at will. But the Blackhawks’ course has taken a U-turn since then. Hesitation has replaced aggressiveness. They’re in a goal drought, be it 5-on-5 or the power play. And when doubt creeps into this team’s game, it’s hard to shake.

When the Blackhawks fell 6-3 on Saturday night in Colorado, it was their third consecutive loss and fifth regulation loss in their last eight games. For a team that came out of the gates so strong, the latest batch of games is a concern.

Let’s look at the Blackhawks’ last 10 games. There have definitely been vintage Blackhawks hockey moments. They’ve had 20 minutes here, 40 minutes there, but the complete games have eluded them for a while. On Friday the Blackhawks’ first period was one of their best of the season, right up there with their first period against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 5. Despite that dominating first period, the Blackhawks led just 1-0 on an Artem Anisimov short-handed goal. But when Duncan Keith’s mistake led to Nashville’s tying goal the Blackhawks seemed to deflate. For those of us who have watched the Blackhawks the last few seasons, shaking off miscues and recovering fast was always a big part of their game. The Blackhawks came on with a better third against the Predators, but there’s no doubt they let that one mistake affect them too long.

“Mistakes are going to happen,” Patrick Kane said on Friday. “When it does happen we have to stay the course, try to keep that momentum we had or regain it, whatever it is.”

Maybe the Blackhawks’ wealth of regular-season success is more of a hindrance than a help. Outwardly they don’t get rattled, especially at this time of year. "It’s a long season. There’s time to work things out." It’s been a long time since they’ve had to scratch and claw their way into the postseason, but if they keep going on their current path, they might have to do that.

The Blackhawks have all the tools to be successful. There’s no shortage of talent, no shortage of ability, no shortage of winning pedigree. What the Blackhawks seem to be lacking right now is hunger, and if they don’t work up the necessary appetite soon, it could be a long season.