Blackhawks

Blackhawks offense remains ice cold in third-straight loss

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Blackhawks offense remains ice cold in third-straight loss

ANAHEIM, Calif. The Chicago Blackhawks walked away from their West-Coast weekend on a decidedly down note: just one goal scored, no points collected.

Theyre struggling again, and their confidence looks shaky. And as the trade deadline looms Monday, the Blackhawks need to find answers and perhaps a newly acquired player or two to get them out of this funk.

Patrick Kane scored to snap the power plays scoreless streak at 39, but the Blackhawks showed little resistance otherwise in a 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday afternoon. Its the third loss in a row for the Blackhawks, who remain in sixth place but have several teams right on their tail.

It was a shaky weekend for the Blackhawks, who are definitely missing Jonathan Toews and defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Steve Montador. Coach Joel Quenneville said it was tough to say if Toews would play on Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs; Toews hasnt skated yet. Same goes for Hjalmarsson. Montador is nowhere near ready.

And if the Blackhawks are unable to cobble together a deal or two on Monday, theyll have to find the answers with the group they have. But in the past three games theyve been hard to find. So has the offense; the Blackhawks have scored just two goals in their last three games.

I dont know. It seems like sometimes when we get the lead were satisfied with that, Kane said. At that point we have to keep the pressure on and try to extend the lead.

Kane put the Blackhawks up early on the power play, their first goal on it since Jan. 24. But with just 20 seconds remaining in the first, Andrew Cogliano knocked one through Ray Emery to tie it 1-1. It was reviewed for quite a while Cogliano kicked it first before apparently getting a stick on it.

I thought he kicked it into me. Im not sure, said Emery, who stopped 35 of 38 shots on Sunday. I know they take the proper look at it, and they mustve had some evidence to the contrary. You have to work past those things.

Yes, you do. But the Blackhawks didnt. Instead of showing determination and coming out firing to start the second, the Blackhawks were sloppy and sluggish. It took them nearly eight minutes to get their first shot on goal in the second period same goes for the third period.

The Ducks, meanwhile, were rejuvenated by Coglianos goal, adding scores by Shelton Brookbank and Teemu Selanne to seal it. They outshot the Blackhawks 26-9 over the final two periods.

We tried different lines, just trying to get some kind of offense and balance. We didnt generate enough, but the starts something we couldve fed off, coach Joel Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks were starting to get their confidence and swagger back toward the end of their last road trip. Theyve lost it again in this latest losing streak. It doesnt help that Toews is out; his contributions, obviously, are immeasurable for this team. But the Blackhawks arent the first team to lose a star player and have to make up for his absence.

Perhaps theyll add a player or two come Mondays trade deadline. Regardless, the Blackhawks need to regroup. And they need to do it fast.

Weve given up a ton of ground recently, Quenneville said. Were in a tough spot. We have to put ourselves back in the spot we were in early in the year, get some games and some confidence.

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.