The trade deadline has passed. The opportunity to add, alter, change, spruce up, whatever you want to call it, is over.
Now the Chicago Blackhawks have to focus on the big task: snap another losing streak, play as a collective unit and finish strong.
The Blackhawks have 18 regular-season games remaining, 18 games left to make a strong push and secure a playoff spot. After an up-and-down month with more downs than ups, the Blackhawks are perilously close to dropping out of the top eight altogether. They enter Wednesday nights game in sixth place in the West, and the three teams trailing them (San Jose, Dallas and Colorado) are within three points of catching them.
Their schedule is a tough one: two more games against division foes the Blues, Red Wings and Predators each. Theyll see the New York Rangers and Dallas Stars again, too.
It wont be easy, especially with Jonathan Toews, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Steve Montador still sidelined. But the Blackhawks know its up to them.
To be honest with you its all on us now, Patrick Kane said. (Management) has done everything they can to put a good team on the ice, be it offseason and the trade deadline. The coaches are doing a fine job and were happy with our team in here. For sure, the onus is on the players now to get it done ourselves.
Viktor Stalberg said its been a trying time.
Its frustrating times but the only way to get out of it is to work hard, play simple hockey and the bounces will go our way, he said. Were in a tough spot. Were fighting for those playoff spots and we have to compete every night. Injuries make it tougher on a couple of guys. Hopefully we get these guys back here soon.
Yes, the Blackhawks are missing their injured teammates. Theres no denying Toewss absence, especially, leaves a hole. But every team has injuries, every team loses key players. The Pittsburgh Penguins made the playoffs despite missing Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby for months last season. The Dallas Stars have gone on their recent push to the top eight without Brenden Morrow and Jamie Benn.
The Blackhawks still have a deep enough roster to do this. Add some confidence, bring back the team-first attitude, and it can be done.
Its the stretch drive; its going to be very competitive and going to be extremely tight, coach Joel Quenneville said. We lost the nice position we were in a month ago. Its evaporated and we have to come together here quickly and push and help each other.