Blackhawks

Blackhawks' lopsided losses: Glitches or something bigger?

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Blackhawks' lopsided losses: Glitches or something bigger?

The Blackhawks were understandably ticked off following their outdoor game on Sunday afternoon.

It was a forgettable performance by the Blackhawks, outhustled and outplayed by a Minnesota Wild team, which clobbered them 6-1. If this would’ve been the Blackhawks’ only lopsided loss of the season, you forget about it quickly and move on. But this has happened a couple of times. And while the Blackhawks aren’t overly alarmed by it, they’ve certainly taken notice.

“No one was happy. No one was happy with how we played our effort, any of it,” Andrew Shaw said. “You have to take that sour taste in your mouth, learn from it and move on.”

The Blackhawks had two ugly games heading into the All-Star break (a 4-0 loss to Florida and a 5-0 loss to Carolina). In those instances, you could have blamed fatigue some. The Blackhawks had played a crazy schedule up to that point; something was bound to give. But in their Feb. 11 loss to Dallas and Sunday’s loss to Minnesota, the Blackhawks were looking up at big deficits before the first periods ended.

[MORE: Blackhawks plan practice, rest during slow week]

Coach Joel Quenneville had his ideas as to why the Blackhawks got down by so much so fast.

“Getting behind, all of a sudden, we were trying to get it back too quickly and opened ourselves up,” Quenneville said. “When we try to manufacture plays – we gave up many rush chances the last game, almost two or three times the normal quantity we give up on a bad effort. It was one of those games, and they’re usually led from what we’re trying to do with the puck and turnovers in the higher slot area, not getting the puck in behind them, trying to make plays at the blue line and it goes the other way.

“You have to be respectful for the other team’s attack and speed,” Quenneville continued. “And we’re better when we’re getting it ahead and getting behind it.”

As Quenneville pointed out, when the Blackhawks were playing their best hockey in late December and through most of January, they were jumping out to early leads and holding them. Chasing isn’t good for any team but in their lopsided losses, the Blackhawks have made more errors than normal.

So during a week in which the Blackhawks have just two games, they’ll work on tightening things up.

“Obviously when stuff like that happens you have to assess it and try to figure out why it may have happened,” Trevor van Riemsdyk said. “Whether [or not] it’s just something that happens every once in a while, you want to avoid it. You definitely can’t ignore it. You want to see if you can figure out what led to that and stop that from happening.”

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The Blackhawks have long been known for playing in a lot of close games. They’ve had a few this season in which they’ve been soundly defeated. It’s as much the Blackhawks trying to do too much as not defending well enough.

“We certainly did a lot of funny things in the last game, Sunday, without a real good explanation,” Quenneville said. “Let’s nip that in the bud. That can’t happen.”

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

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AP

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident:

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

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USA TODAY

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

Win one game.

That was Joel Quenneville’s message during the Blackhawks’ eight-game losing streak, which finally came to an end on Saturday night.

How about a 7-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on home ice for a streak-breaker? Now that’s more like it.

Prior to Saturday, the Blackhawks hadn’t recorded a win in February — or a win at the United Center since Jan. 12. 

Though the Blackhawks will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were rookies, a blowout win over the leaders of the Metropolitan Division Capitals had to have felt great.

"It’s a nice way to get over the hump," Toews said. "Sometimes you might just win a 2-1 game or just kind of grind it out, but it was nice for us to fill the net the way we did tonight."

Added Joel Quenneville, "Certainly feels 100 times better than coming in and trying to explain how we had a lead and were unable to sustain it. The complete 60 minutes, three periods the right way, more consistency in our game, way more pace than we’ve seen recently, composure with the puck, shooting around the net. It was fun but that’s one. Let’s see how we respond to this because there’s a lot of hockey left."

The Blackhawks are 25-26-8 with 58 points, and are 11 points out the final wild card spot, currently held by the Minnesota Wild.

Among the highlights:

— Seven different Blackhawks scored: Toews, Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman

— The Blackhawks are 74-6-4 in the regular season in which Kane and Toews both record a goal — and 41-0-0 in their last 41 games, according to NBC Sports Chicago stats guru Chris Kamka.

— Kane registered career assist No. 500, becoming the sixth Blackhawk with 500 or more. Kane is also the seventh U.S.-born player with 300-plus goals and 500-plus assists, joining Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Pat LaFontaine, Joe Mullen and Phil Housley, according to Kamka.

"You think about the amount of great Americans that have played the game, how many players actually play hockey in the United States... Growing up all I wanted to do was play hockey," Kane said. "That means a lot, especially when you talk about American-born players."

— DeBrincat's 22nd goal of the season has him tied for the rookie-lead with Tampa Bay Lightning's Yanni Gourde. DeBrincat and Kane also lead the Blackhawks with 22 goals.