4 Takeaways: Blackhawks trending downward during vital stretch

4 Takeaways: Blackhawks trending downward during vital stretch

Patrick Kane picked up two assists, but the Blackhawks lost 5-3 to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday. Here are four takeaways: 

Losing ground

After losing the first two games in regulation of their current five-game road trip - which ends in Winnipeg on Sunday - the Hawks are six points out of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. They've also lost four straight games (0-2-2). 

The Hawks were unable to capitalize on Tuesday's game with Oilers center Connor McDavid, who suffered a quad injury in Saturday's game against the Nashville Predators, out of the lineup.

A shorthanded goal from Jonathan Toews and two assists from Patrick Kane wouldn't be enough to grab a win. 

Ryan Carpenter hit Jonathan Toews with a circle-to-circle sauce pass that Toews finished off for a shorthanded goal at 14:19 of the first to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead. 

Power Play's a problem 

The struggling Blackhawks power play - fourth worst in the league entering Tuesday's game at 15% - had another rough night. The Hawks went 0-for-3 in Edmonton. If they want to reverse the trend and finish the road trip strong to get back in playoff contention, the power play is where they need to improve.

"We turned the puck over and couldn't get the puck back, didn't get set the first two," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said of the power play following the game. "But the third was better, we moved it clean — which is the biggest thing. Smitty in front and Kuby's a shooter, adds a little different look. It showed that we have something."

88 moves up to 88

Kane moved up to No. 88 on the NHL's all-time points list Tuesday after grabbing two assists to put him at 1,007 for his career.

Kane nearly had a breakaway shortly after Riley Sheahan scored 1:13 into the game to put the Oilers ahead 1-0, but when it wasn't there he found Brandon Saad who was crashing the net at 5:56 of the first period to tie it 1-1.  

Kane also set up defenseman Adam Boqvist for a goal at 1:45 of the second period to put the Hawks ahead 3-2. 

Strome scratched

Blackhawks forward Dylan Strome was a healthy scratch for the first time since joining the team last November. 

"Think he's got more to give," Colliton said before the game. "As a staff, it's our job to help him get there. Combination of feedback and, sometimes, you've got to come out. You want to get (Alex) Nylander back in, and (Matthew) Highmore's played well, other guys have played well."

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Jonathan Toews on self-isolation, state of Blackhawks and message to fans

Jonathan Toews on self-isolation, state of Blackhawks and message to fans

The NHL put its season on pause 20 days ago due to the COVID-19 outbreak, following the NBA's lead after a player tested positive for the virus. Since then, the world has shut down and it came at a time where hockey players were gearing up for the stretch run and playoff push.

To help give fans a glimpse of how the athletes are handling the quarantine, the NHL over the last few days made the captains of all 31 teams available via video conference call in a group-type setting sorted by division. On Tuesday, it was the Central Division's turn that featured Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators, Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues and Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks in the first group.

Toews said he has remained in Chicago, where he's self-isolating in his new home with his girlfriend and their little Yorkie. He joked that he didn't have much motivation to do anything the first three to five days of the quarantine period, but since then has stayed active by riding a stationary bike and preparing as if hockey could return at any point, even though that remains unclear.

"I can't complain, still finding stuff to do," said Toews, who has spent the past two nights watching Season 3 of Ozark. "Moved into a new place during the season this year and I think you guys can all agree, during the year you kind of put a lot on the backburner with how busy the schedule was and all that, so just catching up, calling some friends and little things that I don't have time to do when we're in season."

Toews was also asked about the state of the franchise and his thoughts on Chairman Rocky Wirtz confirming that the Blackhawks' leadership group of President & CEO John McDonough, GM Stan Bowman and head coach Jeremy Colliton will return for the 2020-21 season.

"Regardless of what's going on in the organization, I think your job as a captain and as a player and for myself and the other guys that have been in the room for a while, it's just to focus on getting the most out of ourselves but [also] getting the most out of our group," Toews said. "We've been through quite a few serious injuries with key players, guys that have experience in the playoffs but that brought that character and that leadership in the room as well, so I think that definitely hurt us.

"But on the other hand, we've got some young players who are learning and getting better really quickly, and I think we showed a lot of signs this year, even if we weren't sitting in a playoff spot right now, that we're right on the edge. ... It's just that experience of playing against the top teams and getting back to that level that we know we can to be a playoff contender."

While it's certainly been challenging for the players to put hockey on hold, all three captains had powerful messages to their fanbases and NHL fans in general. And Toews led the way by going first.

"First of all, we love our fans," Toews said. "We miss them, we miss seeing them at the United Center. Obviously this is a crazy time and a tough time for everybody, but the biggest thing we can learn is, no matter what your background or what your political views are, I think we all are kind of coming together around this and that's the biggest thing. ... That's the biggest message right now, is coming together with your family and friends and your community and wait this thing out. We gotta do what we gotta do to get through it."

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Blackhawks' jersey voted best in NHL by NHLPA poll

Blackhawks' jersey voted best in NHL by NHLPA poll

The 2019-20 NHLPA Players' Poll was released on Tuesday morning and despite no individual nods, which Chicago has been accustomed to in the past, Blackhawks fans will be happy to see the Hawks win one key franchise award: best jersey.

The Blackhawks demolished the competition in this category winning 28.25% of the vote. The Vegas Golden Knights and Toronto Maple Leafs tied for second place at 6.83% for their sweaters.

Nearly 600 NHL players were surveyed prior to the NHL pause for a variety of league-related categories for the poll.

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