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.
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.”