Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Bickell, Versteeg tuning out trade rumors

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Blackhawks: Bickell, Versteeg tuning out trade rumors

Forgive Bryan Bickell if he hasn’t been listening intently to all the rumors of where he could or could not be playing next season.

“I have a 10-month-old baby girl, so she keeps me busy. I’m building a house,” Bickell said on Friday. “With a short summer, I’m just looking to get back in shape and get focused for next season. It’s going to be another exciting season. We made moves to help out this team in the cap era, so we’re excited.”

That’s if Bickell remains with the Blackhawks, which may or may not happen. But for Bickell and Kris Versteeg, whose names have been the subject of trade rumors for several weeks, life is keeping them plenty occupied.

[MORE HAWKS: Nick Mattson prepping for jump to Rockford]

Bickell, right now, sees himself remaining with the Blackhawks.

“I feel like I’m staying. I don’t feel like I’m leaving. I feel comfortable and I’m sure they feel comfortable with what I bring to this team and what I need,” he said. “I don’t want to say I’m replaceable but hopefully I can stay. I’m looking to come here for training camp as a Blackhawk, and hopefully I can stay that way.”

Versteeg has also been spending quality time with family; his son was born just as the Stanley Cup Final began. Versteeg’s also been here before. He was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs after the 2010 Stanley Cup victory. That summer, he let the trade possibilities consume him; this summer, not so much.

“When you’re younger, you stress maybe about it more. Now you understand it’s a business,” Versteeg said. “It’s pretty crazy. Pretty much anyone in this league can be traded at any given time. Some guys have been traded multiple times. I have. Whatever team I’m with I’ll always bring my best. Hopefully it’ll be with the Blackhawks next year but right now, my main focus is on the summertime.”

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Oh, and Bickell’s health looks like it’s finally improving. The forward suffered from vertigo at the end of the Western Conference Final and felt the effects of it the past few weeks. But he recently had a tooth pulled and has been feeling better since.

“I feel normal now,” he said. “I’ve been working out the last week and getting ready and I feel good, so hopefully that’s it: pull a tooth and your vertigo’s gone. That’s all it takes.”

Health status is one thing. Status with a team is another. Bickell and Versteeg aren’t sure where they’ll be come September. They hope it will be here. They’ve already seen several teammates go, Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad to trades and Johnny Oduya to free agency. Whether they’re next is uncertain but they’re too busy to listen to what may or may not happen.

“It’s out of my control. It is what it is,” Bickell said. “You meet a lot of good people good friends that come and go. We’ve seen [Patrick] Sharp and [Brandon] Saad go like they did, now Johnny Oduya. It’s part of the business. We’ve built some good stories together, good history on winning teams. Hopefully I’m here to stay.”

Blackhawks hit new low after epic collapse in St. Louis

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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

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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. 

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.