Blackhawks

Blackhawks giving up goals in bunches

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Blackhawks giving up goals in bunches

The horn sounded at the end of the first period on Monday night, with the Blackhawks staring up at a familiar number: it was another period in which they gave up three or more goals.

“I mean, we have big periods offensively, as well,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “But key shifts of quick goals is something we haven't dealt with before. We’ve got to make sure we kill that.”

Yes, as Quenneville noted, the Blackhawks have scored in bunches themselves. But it’s what they’ve given up that’s most noticeable, mainly because it’s unusual for them. In seven periods this postseason the Blackhawks have given up three or more goals. Four of those periods came against the Nashville Predators and two against the Ducks, including Anaheim’s first period in Game 5. The Blackhawks are 4-3 in those games.

[MORE HAWKS: Blackhawks rally falls short in Game 5 OT loss to Ducks]

“I guess when we give up one, we’ve got to find ways to come back and try and cut off their offense and cut off their momentum,” Jonathan Toews said. “At the end of the last game and early in this game, we just didn’t quite do that well enough and gave up too much. But we’ve got to try and stop the bleeding a little bit earlier next time.”

A few factors have led to opponents’ goal-scoring outbursts in those periods. The Blackhawks’ defense, whether we’re talking about the blue liners or the team version, has had its tough moments. That was especially true against Nashville, when forwards and defensemen didn’t seem to be on the same page. That’s when Corey Crawford struggled, too, and was replaced by Scott Darling for most of the series.

Entering this series the Blackhawks’ defense has tried to get through the Michal Rozsival loss, with very mixed results. Couple that with an opportunistic Ducks team that has pounced on mistakes or created its own chances with good shots and traffic, and you have a recipe for multiple goals against.

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The Blackhawks have had the firepower to overcome some of those periods; they almost included last night’s game in their list of memorable comebacks. But it’s not easy to do that over and over, and the energy spent recovering may be taking its toll. They’ll face their first elimination game of this postseason on Wednesday night, when they host the Ducks in Game 6. They’ll need to play their best. They’ll need to leave everything out there. They’ll need to keep opponents from scoring in bunches, which has shown to be a big challenge.

“In the playoffs there are momentum swings, no doubt. It seems when the other team has momentum we have to find a way to get back, whether it’s a good shift 5-on-5, a big hit, a scoring chance, whatever you call it,” Patrick Sharp said. “The last couple of games they’ve scored three quick ones on us. But it’s a one-goal game, a one-goal series so we’re looking forward to the next game.”

Games where the Blackhawks have allowed three goals in a period:

GAME SERIES OPPONENT PERIOD RESULT
Game 1 1st Round Predators first 3OT win
Game 2 1st Round Predators third loss
Game 5 1st Round Predators third loss
Game 6 1st Round Predators first win
Game 1 2nd Round Wild second win
Game 4 Western Conference Final Ducks  third win
Game 5 Western Conference Final Ducks first OT loss

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Seth Gruen (Big Ten Unfiltered) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) join Kap on the panel. 

The Blackhawks drop their 8th straight. So should their “One Goal” be to tank?

Plus, Jon Lester isn’t a fan of the new pace of play proposals. Is he right?

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

After losing their eighth straight game and falling 12 points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, the Blackhawks' playoff chances have dipped to a season-low 0.2 percent. It would take a miracle for them to extend their postseason streak to 10 at this point, where getting just one win seems like a monumental task.

The Blackhawks were probably never really going to be buyers before the Feb. 26 trade deadline even if they were still in the hunt, but it's hard to imagine they had plans to be sellers. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has reiterated over and over again that he's confident in this group, one that's getting younger and faster.

But now they've reached a territory where they have to consider selling off spare parts simply to coup some draft picks or prospects that they could perhaps retain or use as sweeteners in the offseason.

So which players could the Blackhawks realistically sell?

Let's start with the two players getting rewarded with top-six ice time as of late: Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels.

These are two players that play with high energy and go to the greasy areas, something that's important in the playoffs when scoring goals becomes more difficult. They can clean up rebounds. Wingels, particularly, likely has more value and it's showing given his recent success on the power play as a net-front presence guy. He also isn't a stranger to the playoffs with 54 games under his belt compared to Bouma's five.

Both of them are pending unrestricted free agents and are making $1 million or fewer, which certainly works in the Blackhawks' favor considering they won't cost much and their cap hits are easy to fit in on any interested team.

Maybe a team would like to take a flyer on Tomas Jurco, who's a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but that would be a move somebody makes as more of a longer term project than strengthening your depth for a playoff run this spring.

On the back end, Michal Kempny and Jan Rutta could be in play for a contender looking to ensure some depth as a sixth or seventh defenseman. Again, each of them are making less than $1 million so it's a low-risk situation for clubs whose Plan A or B fall through and may be interested in at least getting something.

While they don't have much NHL experience, they're both 27 years old and have played the sport long enough to know what they can bring to the table.

Once Feb. 26 passes and potential roster spots open up, expect the Blackhawks to start calling up the kids. 

Matthew Highmore deserves a look after leading the Rockford IceHogs with 20 goals and 32 points. John Hayden has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 15 games since joining Rockford, and belongs in the NHL. Even Anthony Louis, who's taken a step forward, should get a taste of the action as he continues his development.

Carl Dahlstrom is getting his shot now. Erik Gustafsson is in that process as well. Gustav Forsling had another extended look during the first half of the season before the team decided it would be wise to continue his development in Rockford, where he can play top-pairing minutes.

All of this would give the Blackhawks a better indicator of how they can approach the upcoming offseason, and which young guys they can possibly add into the mix for 2018-19. But first, we have to see how the end of February plays out before making those calls.