Blackhawks

Eight straight: Blackhawks stay ice cold in the desert

669434.png

Eight straight: Blackhawks stay ice cold in the desert

GLENDALE, Ariz. The effects of a now eight-game winless streak are showing. The locker room gets quieter by the game. Heads are down. Shoulders are slumped. The phrase, I dont know what to say has been uttered more and more.

And the Chicago Blackhawks are beyond desperate right now.

The Blackhawks were chasing early once again, and none of their 38 shots got past Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith as they fell 3-0 to the Coyotes on Saturday night. The Blackhawks have now gone winless in eight straight (0-7-1), their longest such streak since Dec. 30, 2007-Jan. 11, 2008, when they went 0-6-2.

Have the Blackhawks reached their low point of the season?

For sure, coach Joel Quenneville said. We got shut out on the three-game segment. We didnt meet our goals.

It was the second consecutive night the Blackhawks got down 2-0 in the first period. But unlike Friday night in San Jose, there were no answers and no goals. Smith stopped everything, as the Blackhawks were shut out for the sixth time this season.

And the answers as to why this skid continues were in as short supply as offense on Saturday.

I dont really know what to say, you know? Duncan Keith said. Were trying out there. We make a few mistakes and its in our net. I dont know. Thats just the way its been. We make mistakes, they score goals.

Captain Jonathan Toews has been searching for words the last couple of games. Its getting harder to explain it right now. Were working hard and were getting plenty of chances. If we score a couple goals early, stay tight in that game, its completely different.

But just the opposite happened. Again. It took just six minutes for the Blackhawks to get down 2-0 on Saturday. The early deficits have been one more problem the Hawks have faced during their slump. But despite the trend, Patrick Kane said the team isnt lacking confidence at the games start.

Everyones excited to play, happy about the challenge to play. Its just little mistakes here and there that get us behind in the game. Its just not a good feeling when youve got to play catch-up again, he said. Were concentrating on defense, concentrating on the little things. Coaches are harping on the right things and were preparing as much as we possibly can. But were not really getting the results.

The Blackhawks are still in sixth place but their opponents are gaining on them fast. Eighth-place Phoenix, winners of five in a row, are now just three points behind them. Seventh-place Los Angeles is just two points behind.

This is truly a desperate time for the Blackhawks. Their confidence is down and theyve run out of words to explain whats happening. They might need to do something drastic: a shake up, a big trade, something. There are games left to recover, but the Blackhawks are letting a lot slip away.

I think the games weve lost lately have been real tough losses where at critical times not doing the right things. But tonight we hurt ourselves right off the bat, Quenneville said. We havent had to deal with this before. Whether its confidence at the start of the game or little uncertainty in our game, a win will cure that.

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

2-17_toews_blackhawks_usat.jpg
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.

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

jonathan_toews.jpg
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: