Blackhawks

Blackhawks dealing with pressure of slump

664010.png

Blackhawks dealing with pressure of slump

Sean ODonnell looked no further than Sundays Super Bowl for inspiration regarding the Chicago Blackhawks recent woes.

If you asked the (New York) Giants in week 10 or 12 how their season was looking, it wasnt too good. And that turned out OK, ODonnell said, referring to the champions. Before the five-(game winless streak) we were tied for first in the NHL. In the big picture, teams are going to have bumps.

True, all teams go through their ups and downs. But its still the how the Blackhawks downs have gone that is most troubling. And with another six straight games on the road, its not going to get any easier.

The Blackhawks will try to turn things around when they take on the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night. The 0-4-1 record in their last five is tough enough, but the Blackhawks road record hasnt been strong overall. Theyre 10-11-3 outside of Chicago this season, good for 20th in the league.

So considering the first trifecta didnt go so well, is there more pressure on this next set of three games?

I think you have to take it as a fresh start, Viktor Stalberg said. We had our goal to play about .500 in each leg, and we have to get back and start with that. Theres no point going and feeling you have to win three out of three. You have to start somewhere and you have to start picking up some points.

And it has to start in Denver. And according to the Blackhawks, it has to start with getting back to basics: make simple plays, put defense first and go from there.

ODonnell admits slumps are difficult.

When youre in the middle of it one it feels like youre drowning or swimming upstream. But wed rather go through it now than in April or potentially May, he said. I think were going to be better for it. Its going to get us back to our roots and how we need to play defensively. Thats been our Achilles heel the first 50 games. Well get out of this and move forward.

The Blackhawks have been saying all the right things through this slump. Now they have to do all the right things to end it. The pressures not going to get any lighter.

When things arent going your way you have to play simple and hard and things will turn around, Stalberg said. We have too much talent and were too good of a team in here not to turn it around.

Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning

cam_ward_ap.jpg
AP

Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center on Sunday:

1. Blackhawks on wrong side of history 

Earlier this year the Blackhawks made history by appearing in five straight overtime games to start the season, something no team in NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB history has ever done.

But Sunday they found themselves on the wrong side of it after allowing 33 shots on goal in the second period alone. It tied a franchise high for most given up in a single period — March 4, 1941 vs. Boston — and is the most an NHL team has allowed since 1997-98 when shots by period became an official stat.

"It's pretty rare to be seeing that much work in a period," said Cam Ward, who had a season-high 49 saves. "But oh man, I don't even know what to say to be honest. It's tough. We know that we need to be better especially in our home building, too. And play with some pride and passion. Unfortunately, it seemed like it was lacking at times tonight. The old cliche you lose as a team and overall as a team we weren't good enough tonight."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was a tough, tough period in all aspects. I don’t think we touched the puck at all and that was the part that was disturbing, against a good hockey team."

2. Alexandre Fortin is on the board

After thinking he scored his first career NHL goal in Columbus only to realize his shot went off Marcus Kruger's shin-pad, Fortin made up for it one night later and knows there wasn't any question about this one.

The 21-year-old undrafted forward, playing in his his fifth career game, sprung loose for a breakaway early in the first period and received a terrific stretch pass by Jan Rutta from his own goal line to Fortin, who slid it underneath Louis Domingue for his first in the big leagues. It's his second straight game appearing on the scoresheet after recording an assist against the Blue Jackets on Saturday.

"It's fun," Fortin said. "I think it would be a little bit more fun to get your first goal [while getting] two points for your team, but I think we ... just have to [turn the page to the] next chapter and just play and be ready for next game."

3. Brandon Saad's most noticeable game?

There weren't many positives to take away from this game, but Saad was certainly one of them. He had arguably his best game of the season, recording seven shot attempts (three on goal) with two of them hitting the post (one while the Blackhawks were shorthanded).

He was on the ice for 11 shot attempts for and five against at 5-on-5, which was by far the best on his team.

"He started OK and got way better," Quenneville said of Saad. "Had the puck way more, took it to the net a couple of times, shorthanded."

4. Special teams still a work in progress

The Blackhawks entered Sunday with the 29th-ranked power play and 25th-ranked penalty kill, and are still working to get out from the bottom of the league in both departments. In an effort to change up their fortunes with the man advantage, the Blackhawks split up their two units for more balance.

They had four power-play opportunities against Tampa Bay and cashed in on one of them, but it didn't matter as it was too little, too late in the third period — although they did become the first team to score a power-play goal against the Lightning this season (29 chances).

"Whether we're looking for balance or we're just looking for one to get hot, I think our power play has been ordinary so far," Quenneville said before the game. "We need it to be more of a threat."

Four more minor penalties were committed by the Blackhawks, giving them eight in the past two games. That's one way they can shore up the penalty kill, by cutting back on taking them.

Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period

hawks_bad_record.jpg
USA TODAY

Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period

Well, things could be going better for the Blackhawks during Sunday's game against the Lightning.

In the second period Sunday, the Blackhawks surrendered 33 shots on goal, tying a franchise record for most in a single period. The previous instance occurred March 4, 1941 against the Boston Bruins, a game that the Blackhawks lost 3-2.

While the Blackhawks tied a franchise record for shots on goal allowed, they actually set an NHL record at the same time. The NHL did not begin recording shots on goal as an "official" statistic until the 1997-98 season.

Consequentially, Sunday's 33 shots on goal allowed in the second period is the "official" record, even though the Blackhawks accomplished the "feat" nearly 80 years ago. Confusing, huh? 

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, they also surrendered three goals and scored zero in addition to the plethora of shots on goal allowed. They recorded just six shots on goal in the second period themselves, trailing 4-1 by the time the third period started.