Four takeaways: Blackhawks shut out in Philly for seventh straight loss

Four takeaways: Blackhawks shut out in Philly for seventh straight loss

PHILADELPHIA — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, which is the 15th straight defeat (0-14-1) in the regular season for Chicago in Philadelphia since Nov. 9, 1996:

1. Self-inflicted wounds

For the second game in a row, the Blackhawks didn't do themselves any favors in getting behind after one period. They outshot the Flyers 12-4 out of the gates, but a defensive zone turnover by Duncan Keith gifted Claude Giroux the first goal at the 14:56 mark and it changed the feeling of the game.

"I think we played a really good first period," Keith said. "Obviously I made a bad play there, turned it over and it ends up right back in our net. Mistakes are going to happen. I don't plan on making mistakes like that and I can be better in that regard. But when things start going downhill, we've got to weather the storm a little bit and be confident that we just rely on our habits and things like that just to get through.

"The other team scores, let's not get down. Or we make one mistake, let's not compound that mistake into three or four other ones. We did a lot of good things in the first and later on in the third, but it's those stretches of time where we can be better."

2. Weathering the storm

There were stretches where the Blackhawks looked like the better team, such as in the first 15 minutes and the third period when they had 10 scoring chances at even strength to Philadelphia's one. But they didn't capitalize on their opportunities and didn't do a great job at preventing the Flyers from doing so on theirs.

If it wasn't for Corey Crawford in the second period, the Blackhawks could've easily found themselves down three or four goals before the first TV timeout.

An unfortunate break by Brandon Manning, who knocked it into his own net, put the Blackhawks down 3-0 at the 4:16 mark of the third period and that turned out to be the back-breaker.

"That is a challenge right now," coach Jeremy Colliton said of keeping the players positive during their seven-game losing streak. "I just got here, so this is only Game 2 for me. But they've been going through this now for a while, so that's one thing I have to manage and that was kind of the message after the game: 'Guys, we're not that far away, I know it feels like we are because of the score but I don't think that was a 4-0 game.'

"We just have to do a better job of surviving when we're not in control of the game and we didn't do that [today], and we've got to get more out of the moments where we're controlling it and I think we will. Part of that is staying positive, sticking together and continuing to play the right way."

3. Injuries thin out lineup even more

Marcus Kruger did not play because of a left leg injury he suffered on Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes, which was to be expected. But the Blackhawks were dealt with another blow after it was announced minutes before warmups that Brandon Saad would not play because of a right arm injury.

He sustained the injury at practice on Friday and it's unclear whether he'll be available in Carolina on Monday.

4. Colliton's message to young guys

Before the game, Colliton was asked a question about his younger players and how to get the most out of them. His message was simple, but a powerful one.

"It's OK to make a mistake," Colliton said. "We can live with that. And you know what, one might end up in the back of the net. But what we need to build here is, if you play with the right intentions and you work for the team and you play for the team, then you get some rope. Of course, you've got to perform, but we want them to play free, we want them to play with joy. Then it's easier to be a good player."

Blackhawks hit new low after epic collapse in St. Louis

USA Today

Blackhawks hit new low after epic collapse in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS — The Blackhawks needed something to feel good about going into a Central Division showdown against the reigning Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. A solid 60-minute effort would've sufficed, but a win would've trumped all, no matter how they got it. Two points translates into confidence and confidence turns into belief.

Well, both the Blackhawks' confidence and belief are starting to run thin after hitting a new low in Saturday's 4-3 loss.

For the second time in 10 days, the Blackhawks squandered a three-goal lead in the third period by giving up four unanswered goals in a span of 13:16 to a Blues team that, quite frankly, dominated the entire game. The Blues led in shot attempts (65-40), shots on goal (38-22), even-strength scoring chances (34-13) and even-strength high-danger chances (14-2), according to Natural Stat Trick, but couldn't crack a red-hot Corey Crawford until the third period. 

It was an epic collapse for the Blackhawks, who lost their fourth in a row and for the 10th time in 13 games. And there are no words to describe it.

"It shows where we're at," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We're not good enough in those situations. All we can do is continue to talk about and show the team and work together to make it better. That's the only way it gets better. We recognize the problem. We've got to find a way to take a step. I think we have taken steps at times, but it's not consistent enough."

The Blackhawks are a fragile team right now and you could see it in their body language from the opening faceoff, almost as if they're starting the game already down a couple goals. Can you remember the last time they opened a game by dictating the terms?

In dark times like these, your best players have to step up and take control and they did that on Saturday.

Brandon Saad scored twice, Jonathan Toews registered two primary assists, Patrick Kane ended a six-game goal drought and Crawford stopped the first 32 shots he faced before the Blues' third-period onslaught. And yet it still wasn’t enough.

Brent Seabrook and Toews — two members of the Blackhawks’ leadership group — were sitting at their stalls after the game awaiting the media and made no excuses. They accepted responsibility and acknowledged being in this position is unacceptable.

"Being out there in those situations, you got to take pride in it," Seabrook said. "I know I take a lot of pride in it. ... I know I'm on there for two [goals], the second and third one. It's a critical part of the game and I've got to be better in those moments."

"That sucks to blow that one with the lead that we had," Toews said. "But there's situations where we've got to get pucks out and I lost my check a few times."

So what now? Where do the Blackhawks go from here? Will it get worse before it gets better? 

Is the season even salvageable?

"Why not? One game at a time," Toews said. "We had a rough week. ... It's easy to look at the storyline and get really discouraged and come up with the wrong mentality in your mind about what can happen going forward, but it's the wrong way to go about it. We've just got to focus on tomorrow night and build off the things we keep doing well. Each guy has to look at himself and try to find ways to bring more out of himself every night."

The Blackhawks have been searching for answers all season and they’re not getting any closer to finding a solution. They’re getting further away from it.

A drastic change might be necessary, but the frustration stems from the Blackhawks knowing what the problem is on the ice and still not doing anything about it.

"We need to, when the game's on the line, buckle down, stop and start, make the right read,” Colliton said. “I know they know and I know we as a group know what we have to do to have success and it's just a matter of doing it."

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3 Takeaways: Blackhawks lose 4-3 against Blues

USA Today

3 Takeaways: Blackhawks lose 4-3 against Blues

The Blackhawks lost 4-3 to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. Here are three takeaways: 

Blackhawks blow three-goal lead 

After Patrick Kane's beautiful stick-side snipe at 4:16 of the third period, the last place Hawks led the defending Stanley Cup champs 3-0 in St. Louis. It was going to be a huge moral victory for Chicago, who had lost three straight games and been outscored 10-3 in their past two. 

Twenty four seconds later, Tyler Bozak scored the first of four unanswered Blues' goals to give St. Louis their first lead of the game, and the final score in regulation, 4-3.

"Sucks to blow that one with the lead that we had, but there's situations where we've got to get pucks out, and I lost my check a few times," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said after the game. "Those guys can make plays when you turn the puck over and you lose your check, so just got to keep going back to the drawing board."

Alex Nylander turned the puck over in Chicago's D zone to Robert Thomas near the high slot, who gave the puck to Bozak for the Blues' first goal of the game which sprung three more. 

“If we benched every player who made a mistake, we wouldn’t have any players," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said after being asked if he thought about benching Nylander after the mishap.

Shot suppression has to happen

As they've done a lot this season, the Hawks allowed the opposition way too many shots on their net. The Blues were able to pepper Corey Crawford with 38. 

"I thought we had a good start to the third, obviously," Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "Crow was huge for us all night, really kept us in the game the whole game and I think we let him down."

Crawford and Robin Lehner have been leaned on too much this season by a struggling defense who's definitely missed Calvin de Haan (right shoulder) and Duncan Keith (groin) the past few games. Even before the pair's injuries, the netminders facing around 40 shots was happening too frequently. 

"We all take responsibility," Colliton said. "With the coaches, we have to find a way to prepare these guys better so that they can execute those types of reads when the game's on the line. So, that's it."

Colliton also said Keith began skating in Chicago. There's no set timetable for his return, but it should be sooner rather than later now. 

Saad doubles down

Forward Brandon Saad scored his ninth and tenth goals of the season in St. Louis on Saturday. His first goal came 19 seconds into the first period, assisted by Toews.

Saad's second goal of the game came 30 seconds into the third period. Toews used his body to maintain possession on the boards and feed Saad the puck in front of the net for his second helper. 

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