Blackhawks

Frustration grows as Blackhawks drop fifth straight

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Frustration grows as Blackhawks drop fifth straight

Updated: Friday, Feb. 3 at 11:35 p.m.

CALGARY, Alberta Another night in the province of Alberta, another loss. And with a losing streak stretching back before the All-Star break, the frustration is building.

Brent Seabrook scored late in the first period, but that was it as the Blackhawks dropped a 3-1 decision to the Calgary Flames on Friday night. It was a disappointing end to a rough start to this nine-game road trip. The Blackhawks are now 0-4-1 in their last five games.

The Blackhawks remain in sixth place in the Western Conference, but the gap there and in the Central, where theyre fourth, is widening. Detroit leads both with 71 points while the Blackhawks are stuck at 65.

The way weve been playing lately, we dont deserve to win, Jonathan Toews said. We played solid early on, stuck with the little things that we wanted to do it just slowly deteriorated. Bad habits crept into our game later and we started taking penalties again. We were better than last night, but it didnt take much to do that.

No, the Blackhawks wont miss coming to Alberta. Between Calgary and Edmonton, they went 0-4-0 and were outscored 25-9.

Sure, things were a little better on Friday three goals against is always better than eight, and Ray Emery was solid in stopping 29 of 32. They entered the second period tied 1-1. But the Blackhawks gave up four power plays again, with Jay Bouwmeester scoring the game-winner on a second-period power play.

Jarome Iginla later added his 19th of the season.

There were some good things. But we still think having to play catch-up, playing like that, is not easy, coach Joel Quenneville said. And keeping the puck out of the next is still an emphasis.

That didnt happen enough on one end, and the Blackhawks couldnt get it past Miikka Kiprusoff on the other despite 27 shots at him.

Its tough to see the puck not going into the net, Viktor Stalberg said. But there are no excuses. We have to find a way to get back on track. We have to fight through it and start winning.

The Blackhawks are lacking victories. The frustration, however, is starting to add up.

Its probably a little higher than Ill admit to, defenseman Steve Montador said. But well put the work in for how we need to play. Well take care of our own end and go from there.

The Blackhawks are reaching a critical point. This is the first five-game winless streak theyve had since March of 2009. Yes, that team won the Stanley Cup. The Blackhawks are capable of playing that stoic, strong defense and all-around game that put them atop the West and Central back in mid-January. They need to find that again. Soon.

I think stretches like this get your attention. We can learn from this, Quenneville said. We havent had a challenge like this all year. Its up to us to get back and look at things positively and recapture how we felt early in the year.

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

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AP

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.