Blackhawks

Costly turnovers doom Blackhawks in sixth-straight loss

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Costly turnovers doom Blackhawks in sixth-straight loss

DENVER The Blackhawks locker room was silent once again late Tuesday night. It was another game with the same issues: Mistakes led to odd-man rushes and too many opposing goals. The power play was futile.

And it led to the same outcome theyve now had for six consecutive games.

David Jones scored two goals as the Avalanche scored three unanswered in the third period to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 on Tuesday. The Blackhawks are now 0-5-1 in their last six. And they also lost defenseman Steve Montador to an upper-body injury in the second period. Coach Joel Quenneville said theyll know more on Montadors status on Wednesday.

While the Blackhawks are still sixth in the Western Conference with 65 points, the gap between them and their Central Division foes is growing. Idle Detroit has 72 points. St. Louis is in fourth in the West with 69. Fifth-place Nashville, which gained another point Tuesday night, also has 69.

But the Blackhawks arent worried about other teams. They have enough issues of their own. Turnovers led to Avalanche goals, they gave up too many odd-man rushes and their power play was helpless in trying to even the score.

We look at the last three games: were tied going in the third in Edmonton, late in the second in Calgary and today tied going into the third and we give up a goal right off the bat. Its something we just talked about, Quenneville said. Its disappointing, especially with this team off the rush.

Duncan Keith said its a tight game and all of a sudden some plays happen in the third where its in the back of our net. It seems like any little mistake is costing us right now, and thats the way it goes on a losing streak.

Ray Emery stopped 24 of 28 in his second consecutive start, but pointed to what he didnt thwart.

I want to stop both of those last ones, he said. I judge myself on wins and losses. We needed a win and we didnt get it. No, Im not satisfied (with my game).

Turnovers led to the Avs first two goals, which they scored within 35 seconds of each other in the second period. Patrick Kanes goal tied it 6:14 into the second period. But once the third started, the trouble escalated. Gabriel Ladeskog scored just 38 seconds into the frame and the Blackhawks wouldnt score again.

The opportunities were there, as the Blackhawks had two power plays in the third period. But as in their previous three games, it yielded nothing. The Blackhawks are now 0-for-10 on the man advantage over their last four games.

We had some chances before the power play, but we lost a lot of momentum tonight (on it), Quenneville said. It was not good at all.

This road trip only gets tougher, with San Jose and Phoenix winner of three straight looming. The Blackhawks are well aware of their problems. Fixing them is the tougher part.

I dont really know what to say at this point. It sucks. Its not like were enjoying this, Jonathan Toews said. Were trying to fix the problem. No ones running away from it. Were looking at each other in the eye and were expecting every guy to be better and pick up the slack, and thats what weve got to do. We have to face these problems as a team, not as separate individuals.

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

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USA TODAY

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

Corey Crawford is back and it didn't look like he skipped much of a beat. The Blackhawks were handed their first regulation loss of the season to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, but the 33-year-old netminder stopped 27 of 30 shots (.900 save percentage) in his season debut and made several timely saves to keep his team in it.

In the larger picture, it was a win based on how well Crawford looked between the pipes.

"Yeah, I think it is," coach Joel Quenneville said after practice on Friday. "It's one of things we were wondering, how he would handle post-game and how he came in today. Very encouraging signs. He felt good in all aspects of what he went through and dealt with, and practiced well today too, so that was good."

The first one is in the books.

But what's the plan going forward? Will Crawford be on a "pitch count" or will they treat him like they have in past seasons when he was healthy?

In the past, Crawford has generally started somewhere in between 55-58 games per season. Part of that has been because of injuries. Another part is the Blackhawks have had reliable backups, which allowed them to give Crawford an extra night off here and there to keep him fresh.

It's not unreasonable, though, to think Crawford could flirt with 50 starts, considering he missed only five games to start the season. And they can still accomplish that by playing it safe.

The Blackhawks have 13 more back-to-backs this season, which gives them the opportunity to start Cam Ward at some point in each of them. That leaves room for another 15 or so starts to sprinkle in for Ward that could serve as rest days for Crawford and still being on track to start around 50.

Obviously, the Blackhawks want to be careful with how much they ask of Crawford because concussions are tricky to deal with and every player responds differently to it.

His return comes at a time where the Blackhawks are slated to play seven games in 11 days after playing just two in the previous 10. Thursday marked the start of that stretch.

"He’ll tell us how he feels and we’ll go from there and make those decisions," Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks have been on record saying they prefer not to carry three goaltenders. But in this case it makes sense. At least in the short term.

Quenneville said Friday that the Blackhawks will reevaluate the situation at the end of the weekend following the beginning of a busy stretch where they'll play three games in four days.

"Yeah, that’s the mindset," he said. "Let’s see how we handle these three in four and then we’ll address it."

Crawford is expected to start on Saturday in Columbus, making it his second start in three days. That's when they'll get a better sense of how he's handling things.

If it were up to him, Crawford said he feels he's prepared for it.

"Yeah, sure," Crawford said. "Why not? I've been working hard with [strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman]. He's got me where I need to be, so I'm in shape right now. Why not?"

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Corey Crawford’s season debut after missing nearly 10 months with a concussion.

Mayers talks about the Kitty system that Niklas Hjalmarsson and Vinnie Hinostroza probably dealt with in their returns to Chicago.

The guys also discuss what’s next for Crawford, the upcoming matchup against Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Blackhawks’ biggest areas for improvement.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!