Sitting eight points out of the playoffs, with four teams to jump and trade rumors circulating, the Blackhawks just need to feel good.
It was clear at Fifth Third Arena on Thursday following off-ice work and meetings that the Hawks aren't feeling too hot about where they're at. Truthfully, the vibe could have best been compared to the type of demeanor and commentary you'd witness from players at the conclusion of a season in which they didn't make the playoffs, like the last two.
The Hawks more than likely sealed their non-postseason fate for the third straight year after going 1-4-0 on their recent road trip in Canada.
"I don't know if we're necessarily thinking about playoffs," Chicago forward Ryan Carpenter said. "That's still so many games away. But yeah, we're optimistic in here, we've gone on streaks before.
"But right now this just sucks, the feeling in the locker room, and losing. No one’s happy in here, including myself, and we've got to find a way to figure it out. [Friday] will be a good chance against a good team in Nashville, and we'll be home and we'll see how we respond."
"It seems like it's been the last couple weeks here where we got off to a bad start on that road trip and it snowballed," said Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, who recorded his 500th NHL assist on Wednesday. "Now that we're home, we've got a big game [Friday].
"We're obviously not happy with the last game (6-3 loss to Rangers at home on Wednesday), but we've got to find a way to get out of it and turn the page. I think that's what it comes down to. It comes down to just being better. We know what we have to do. It's just a matter of being consistent at it throughout the course of the game and having a good start."
The Hawks were tied 1-1 with the Rangers after the second period on Wednesday before allowing five third-period goals.
"Well, I don't know," Keith said of the reason behind the collapse in the final frame. "It seemed like they got the one goal and we just got deflated. And again it kind of snowballed from there without much pushback. When we're always chasing – they got the first goal in the game too – and we always felt like we were kind of chasing the whole game.
"For whatever reason we weren't able to mount much of a comeback. I mean, I think at some point you give the other team some credit. They have some big guys and they hang onto pucks; they don't throw pucks away.
"They force you to earn the puck back and it didn't seem like there were too many odd-man rushes for us. So those little things that we talk about in our game, when we do those things we're a hard team play against. And when we don't, things like that happen."
Friday the Blackhawks face the Predators, just three points out of the second wild card spot and itching to get in the postseason mix.
"We've faced adversity at different points in the season and this is just another one of those times where we need to really get back together and play the style of game we know we can play and know we can win with," Hawks forward Alex DeBrincat said. "I think that's what we're focused on right now."
The trade deadline rumors and whispers aren't helping the Blackhawks.
"Try to let it go as much as possible," DeBrincat said of how players deal with possibility of them or a teammate leaving. "For us in here, there's not much we can do at this point.
"We're just trying to go out there and win games; whatever happens, happens. They know what they're doing and for us, we're all together as a team right now, so play as a team and focus on winning."
Regardless of the situation the team is in and no matter who stays or goes, the Hawks need to feel good about themselves and re-establish a high level to play at before things go from bad to worse with the possibility of carrying over into next season.
"We've got to create our own optimism by how we play," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I think the feeling in the group is not as good because our performance wasn't good enough last game. Obviously you look at the standings and no one feels good about it. The way we can bring good feelings back is by being really good tonight for 60 minutes."
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