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.