Blackhawks

Blackhawks dealing with pressure of slump

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Blackhawks dealing with pressure of slump

Sean ODonnell looked no further than Sundays Super Bowl for inspiration regarding the Chicago Blackhawks recent woes.

If you asked the (New York) Giants in week 10 or 12 how their season was looking, it wasnt too good. And that turned out OK, ODonnell said, referring to the champions. Before the five-(game winless streak) we were tied for first in the NHL. In the big picture, teams are going to have bumps.

True, all teams go through their ups and downs. But its still the how the Blackhawks downs have gone that is most troubling. And with another six straight games on the road, its not going to get any easier.

The Blackhawks will try to turn things around when they take on the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night. The 0-4-1 record in their last five is tough enough, but the Blackhawks road record hasnt been strong overall. Theyre 10-11-3 outside of Chicago this season, good for 20th in the league.

So considering the first trifecta didnt go so well, is there more pressure on this next set of three games?

I think you have to take it as a fresh start, Viktor Stalberg said. We had our goal to play about .500 in each leg, and we have to get back and start with that. Theres no point going and feeling you have to win three out of three. You have to start somewhere and you have to start picking up some points.

And it has to start in Denver. And according to the Blackhawks, it has to start with getting back to basics: make simple plays, put defense first and go from there.

ODonnell admits slumps are difficult.

When youre in the middle of it one it feels like youre drowning or swimming upstream. But wed rather go through it now than in April or potentially May, he said. I think were going to be better for it. Its going to get us back to our roots and how we need to play defensively. Thats been our Achilles heel the first 50 games. Well get out of this and move forward.

The Blackhawks have been saying all the right things through this slump. Now they have to do all the right things to end it. The pressures not going to get any lighter.

When things arent going your way you have to play simple and hard and things will turn around, Stalberg said. We have too much talent and were too good of a team in here not to turn it around.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: