The Blackhawks must find a way to win and gain momentum before things spiral out of control. The Hawks, last place in the Central division after giving up 12 goals in their past past two games against the Avalanche, will face the defending Stanley Cup champions down a man with an injury-ridden roster.
The Blackhawks will be without Duncan Keith (groin), Drake Caggiula (concussion protocol), Dylan Strome (concussion protocol), Andrew Shaw (undergoing further evaluation) and Robin Lehner (flu), forcing them to play with just 11 forwards and six defensemen, due to salary cap restrictions, when they face the St. Louis Blues on Monday at the United Center. The Blues are first in the Central, six points ahead of the Avalanche.
"Very impressive," Patrick Kane said of the Blues. "And then you look at their lineup, and they have a lot of injuries too. They obviously have a formula that works over there. Started with the back half of last year and then into the playoffs and winning, and then what they've done to start off this year is pretty impressive too. It'll be a tough matchup."
It's likely the Hawks will be missing some of those players when they head to Boston Thursday before going into New Jersey on Friday.
"We have to respond to adversity," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. "To me, you can look at adversity as something you don’t want to have. No question, everyone would like it to be smooth all the time. But it’s an opportunity for us to take another step forward. We can develop as a team when you go through these stretches. I’d like for us not to miss this opportunity to respond. It can propel us forward."
"It's just like that all year," Kane said of the challenging games ahead. "You could've said the same thing about our last five, 10 games. It seems like we're traveling all over the place, playing some tough teams. It's definitely difficult being in the Central and the travel we have to deal with, but it is what it is and every team in our division has to go through it at some point."
The Bruins are first in the Atlantic division of the Eastern conference, 12 points ahead of the Panthers. New Jersey is last in the Metropolitan division.
Prior to Friday (5-2) and Saturday's (7-3) debacles against the Avalanche, the Hawks were getting great goaltending and finding ways to win, going 5-2-1 in their previous eight games, including a 3-0 shutout of the Stars in Chicago with Crawford in net on Tuesday.
"We've played some good hockey, Jonathan Toews said following Monday's morning skate. "I think we played a good road game in Dallas, we played good at home against Dallas. Since then we've maybe taken a few steps back, so I think it's time to bounce back tonight. The areas where we need to be better are pretty obvious, so we'll do our best to correct that."
Toews is slated to become the 10th player to skate in 900 games with the Blackhawks on Monday.
"Oh, it's tonight?" Toews asked with a smile. "I think it's special to hit certain marks. I don't think you ever go out there every single night thinking about that, unless your 'Kaner and it happens every 20 games or something. You look at 'Seabs and 'Duncs and it doesn't feel like we've been here for that long, but then you look back to clips over the years and you go, 'Time really has flown by.'
"It's special and I think when you're going through the same routine almost every year with training camp, [coming] to the United Center... It's not that you take it for granted, but it does in some way become a routine.
"So every time you're able to hit a milestone like games played or points, or whatever it is, it's definitely a moment to stop and say, 'Hey this is pretty special and I can be thankful for what I've been a part of and what I've been given, especially playing here in Chicago for the fans and for this team."
Kane will be looking to extend his 15-game point streak (24 points; 11 goals, 13 assists) on Monday.
"You just know the number," Kane said of streaks. "Other than that, you try to put that in the back of your mind and go out there and play the same way. It's nice when you're consistent and on a little run, but every game you try to treat as a new slate, and produce scoring chances, produce chances for yourself, and play the right way, and hopefully those things take care of itself."
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