Joel Quenneville

Joel Quenneville sends message to Blackhawks going into bye week

joel_quenneville.jpg
AP

Joel Quenneville sends message to Blackhawks going into bye week

The Blackhawks are in a position they've never been in under Joel Quenneville. It's mid-January and they find themselves below the playoff line.

To make things even more difficult, they'll be sitting at home or on vacation for the next five days while they watch other Western Conference teams accumulate points during their league-mandated bye week. That means when they return to action on Saturday they'll have lots of ground to make up and minimal margin for error.

So while the Blackhawks should certainly use their down time to recharge both mentally and physically, Quenneville's message to his team is very clear.

"Mentally, get away," he said following a 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday. "Relax, I guess. Have a little fun. But hockey still has to be in the back of your mind. It’s still going to be on when you’re out there. Certainly knowing it’s going to take a lot more than what we showed in the first half of the season. We’re going to need everyone going all out every single night to have a chance."

And it's alarmingly true.

Here's what the wild card picture looks like going into Monday:

While just three points separate the Blackhawks from the Wild, the Blackhawks are in the worst position among the six teams in the picture. The Stars, who are already ahead by a point, have one game in hand on the Blackhawks, the Sharks have four and the streaking Avalanche have three. Heck, even the Ducks have a game in hand, which means an extra win would put them above the Blackhawks.

Every point is critical for the Blackhawks, not only because it obviously keeps them in the hunt, but because on game's they fail to collect points, they're scoreboard watching five other teams hoping they're coming away with nothing as well.

The Blackhawks will come out of the bye week with three straight home games, and if they don't play with their backs against the wall from here on out, their nine-year playoff streak could be in serious jeopardy.

Joel Quenneville not pleased with Blackhawks' effort in loss to Red Wings: 'That was tough to watch'

Joel Quenneville not pleased with Blackhawks' effort in loss to Red Wings: 'That was tough to watch'

The Blackhawks looked like a team who thought they were on a bye week already, getting shut out on home ice with a six-day break ahead of them.

Joel Quenneville called it like it was following the Blackhawks' 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday afternoon at the United Center.

"That was tough to watch," Quenneville said after the game. "Use the word brutal, that may be complimentary, out to lunch, use them all. But that wasn’t good enough. Nowhere near good enough."

The Red Wings jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period, but the Blackhawks couldn't get anything going offensively.

"You gotta be ready to play, have to start on time," Quenneville said. "We gave them two goals, terrible coverage and not enough pace to start a game. One team showed up, another team didn’t."

Entering Sunday, the Blackhawks had won three of their last four games.

The Blackhawks start the bye week with a 22-17-6 record and 50 points, and one point out of a wild card spot. Only the Colorado Avalanche (49 points) rank below them in the Central Division.

So what's Quenneville's message when the Blackhawks resume play again on Saturday — and for the remainder of the season?

"We’re going to need everyone going all out every single night to have a chance," Quenneville said.

See what else the coach had to say about the team's loss in the video above.

Quenneville sees Blackhawks showing a 'little bit more consistency'

Quenneville sees Blackhawks showing a 'little bit more consistency'

Teams sitting outside the playoffs at this point of the season aren't exactly known for consistency.

That's why Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said that word when talking about the team's recent play. The Blackhawks haven't won back-to-back games since a five-game winning streak in mid-December that led into the recent six-game road trip, but Quenneville had a more positive spin after Sunday's 4-1 win against Edmonton.

The Blackhawks have a 3-1-1 record in the past five games and Quenneville said he even saw positives from the only loss during that stretch, a 5-4 loss to Vegas on Friday.

"I thought we played with a real purpose, but a good response after a funny and a tough way to lose the other day," Quenneville said. "When we look back at the Rangers and these games, two out of three, a lot of good things and even that Vegas game had some good things so it's a little bit more consistency in our game."

Anton Forsberg got the start in goal after Jeff Glass was between the pipes the previous four games. Forsberg stopped 32 of 33 shots. Quenneville said it was a "big game for him."

Nick Schmaltz, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad and Jordan Oesterle scored in the win for the Blackhawks.

Watch the video above to see more from Quenneville after Sunday's win.