Blackhawks have another quiet night on offense in loss to Jets


Blackhawks have another quiet night on offense in loss to Jets

WINNIPEG, Manitoba – The Blackhawks have been doing plenty right defensively since they lost Duncan Keith. They’ve given up little, recording consecutive shutout victories against Tampa Bay and Anaheim.

The problem is, they’ve generated little on the other side. And on Thursday night, that caught up with them.

Patrick Kane scored his sixth goal of the season, a power-play goal, but the Blackhawks were otherwise quiet in the scoring department in their 3-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. It was the third consecutive game in which the Blackhawks managed just one goal, and the outing snapped their four-game winning streak.

Corey Crawford stopped 28 of 31 shots; his goal-less streak ended with Blake Wheeler’s goal about eight minutes into the first period. Up to that point, Crawford allowed nothing for 141 minutes, 33 seconds.

[MORE HAWKS: Tanner Kero's scoring touch could help Blackhawks]

On the other side, Kane’s power-play goal was the team’s first regulation goal in 141:09. Five-on-five goals, however, remain elusive; the Blackhawks last scored one of those 4:02 into the first period (Artem Anisimov) against the Florida Panthers on Oct. 22.

Michael Hutchinson had another strong outing against the Blackhawks, stopping 45 of the 46 shots he faced.

Even though the Blackhawks have four consecutive victories, including those back-to-back shutout triumphs, the lack of goal scoring is getting frustrating.

“Yeah. You know especially tonight, I think we had some chances to score some goals,” said Kane. “Give their goalie credit. But I think at this point and time, we can do things a little bit better to try and make it tougher on their goalie: try to get to the net, stay at the net, get shots through, get rebounds, try to bang in goals that way. Get some dirty goals because it seems like all the pretty plays aren’t really happening for us. We can do a better job of trying to get some ugly ones.”

Coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks needed to make life tougher on Hutchinson.

“I wish we had more disruption at the net. I thought he made a lot of saves without traffic and I think that a lot of goalies will shine on a night like that,” he said. “I thought we worked hard but I don’t think we played with much of a purpose tonight.”

The Blackhawks had that purpose early in this one, with Kane scoring on the power play just 1:26 into the game. At one point, they were outshooting the Jets 8-1. But Wheeler scored the first of three unanswered Jets goals about seven minutes later.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Again, the shots were there but the quality really wasn’t.

“Maybe not, but I think there’s still some good efforts in around the net where we just couldn’t quite finish second efforts,” Jonathan Toews said. “I think that’s what we’re looking for, especially when you’re not scoring, to try to make the pretty plays, I think we had a couple situations where we did try that. Obviously we want to keep shooting the puck from anywhere and go for those second efforts and those rebounds. That’s how we’re going to break through.”

The Blackhawks miss Keith on both sides of the puck. They’re doing pretty well on preventing goals. Scoring them has been much tougher, but the Blackhawks are trying not to get too frustrated.

“What choice do you have? Let it get to you and it can only get worse if you do. At the end of the day, it’s up to us,” Toews said. “Maybe there’s pressure on the outside to really show our frustration, show that we care, but that doesn’t really make much of a difference for us. Obviously, it happens sometimes. But the best thing we can do is stay with it and keep working for it. We’re doing a lot of good things other than that, and eventually the scoring will come.”

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch


Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

Brandon Saad played a majority of last season on the first line, started this season on the second to change things up, got demoted to the fourth by the fifth game, and could find himself out of the lineup in the sixth.

Before the Blackhawks hit the ice for practice on Monday, the 25-year-old winger found a white jersey hanging in his stall. That's usually reserved for players who are injured — Andreas Martinsen (back) was the only other player wearing one — or players who are on the outside looking in, which appears to be Saad right now considering he was not part of the four-line rotation.

"I don't think anyone wants to be wearing white around here," he said. "But it is what it is and there's nothing you can do but keep trying to improve. It's their job to make the call to put the best team out there to win hockey games."

Known for being even-keeled through the ups and downs, Saad expressed disappointment about the possibility of being a healthy scratch on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He didn't exactly show that emotion following his demotion to the fourth line, perhaps out of respect to the players he was playing with by noting how it brings balance.

But he did on Monday, and it was the first time we've really seen some sort of emotion out of him.

"Everyone makes mistakes and things aren't always going to go your way but to be out of the lineup, a little surprised today," Saad said. "But it is what it is. ... No one wants to be out of the lineup. That's never fun regardless of who you are."

When asked to pinpoint what's gone wrong, Saad said he wasn't the right person to ask.

"I think you got to ask him that," he said, referring to Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff. "It's his calls. For me, you can talk pros and cons as much as you want but just trying to go out there and compete and win hockey games. We've won a few here, I know every game has gone to overtime so they've been close. Nothing was said to me about lineup change or anything like that. You just come in and you see your jersey and you go out there and you play."

So Quenneville was asked.

"Just expect more," he said. "That's the situation."

Is his mindset in the right place?

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said. "His mindset is what it is. Whether it's urgency or passion, coming up with loose pucks in those areas is going to be the difference."

The Blackhawks sending a message shouldn't only be directed at Saad. It also serves as a reminder to his teammates and is important to note for the younger guys about earning your ice time.

"I don't really know where the coaches are coming from so I'm not going to comment on that," Jonathan Toews said respectfully. "But [Saad] has been doing some good things and I think it's good for all of us to know what's going on there because if [Saad] can get his ice time taken away, then so can a lot of guys, myself included. So we all want to play well and have team success."

The Blackhawks need Saad to return to form quickly because he's crucial to their overall success. There's no debate about that. It's why the thought of Saad, who played in all 82 games last season, serving as the 13th forward is frustrating for everyone involved.

It hasn't been a problem in the past, but now it's becoming one because of the Blackhawks' aspirations of getting back to the playoffs and their dependence on their top players.

"I don’t think it’s an issue," Quenneville said. "We just expect more out of him."

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

The Blackhawks made sports history on Saturday after they appeared in their fifth straight overtime game to start the season.

No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL, showing just how crazy this early season run has been for the Blackhawks, who have rallied from all five games and have come away with wins in three of them.

"We’ve had five games, every one of them have been extremely intense and the game’s been on the line from start to finish," coach Joel Quenneville said following a 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues. "Our group’s been competitive this year, the guys have been working hard for one another. I don’t know how many games we’ve been down in the third period, and coming back to win is special."

The Blackhawks appeared in 17 overtime/shootout games last season and won seven of them. They are one of six teams this season that have yet to pick up a regulation win.

On a separate note, Saturday marked the eighth time in Blackhawks history that one player scored a tying goal in the third period and scored in overtime (Alex DeBrincat), according to the NHL's PR department. It's the second time it's happened this year for the Blackhawks, with Jonathan Toews the other on Oct. 6 against St. Louis.