Chicago Sun-Times

Litany of missed chances

Hawks have failed to capitalize inclutch during losing streak


SAN JOSE, Calif. — It’s a bit unfair to compare the Blackhawks’ season to what happened last year, when they had their roster overhauled after winning the Stanley Cup and had to fight their way back into playoff contention.

There are distinct difference­s, such as their better overall start this year. But there are some similariti­es that are starting to show up, especially when you look at the Hawks’ six-game skid.

“We look at the four games without winning here on this road trip alone, we could have gotten points out of every game,” coach Joel Quennevill­e said Thursday. “That’s what the frustratin­g part is in here. We could have controlled the outcome in those games.”

Quennevill­e is alluding to the missed opportunit­ies when the Hawks went to overtime against the Vancouver Canucks, were tied at 3 going into the third period against the Edmonton Oilers, fell behind 2-1 in the final minutes of the second period against the Calgary Flames and were tied at 2 going into the third against the Colorado Avalanche.

Quennevill­e made similar comments last season when the Hawks blew leads or lost games that were tied late en route to a .421 winning percentage in onegoal games, the sixth-worst mark in the league.

“You look back at last year, we probably didn’t get off to the best start and, as the season went on, we got better and better,” winger Patrick Kane said. “Hopefully, it’s not a different trend this year. We want to be good at the end of the season like we were last year, and hopefully we can get going here soon.”

Last year, the Hawks had to get better in the third period to make the playoffs. Missed opportunit­ies early in the year cost them. They allowed 89 goals in the third, the fourth-most in the NHL.

This season, the Hawks have been solid in the third period — typically the mark of playoffbou­nd teams — but recently it has been different. In their last three losses, against the Oilers, Flames and Avalanche, the Hawks were outscored 9-1 in the final 20 minutes. There were several reasons, including inadequate special teams, poor goaltendin­g, bad defensive coverage.

“We have to get better whether it’s managing the puck or checking,” Quennevill­e said.

The Hawks’ offensive leaders believe it’s just part of their skid and nothing more. To combat it, there have been plenty of meetings and film sessions to pinpoint their problems and more on-ice chalkboard instructio­n to get everyone in the right place.

“I’ve never thought about last season,” winger Marian Hossa said. “I don’t even compare to it. There’s 82 games in a season. There’s going to be some downs. We are down right now. We just have to find away to get up again.”

After 54 games last season, the Hawks were 28-22-4 with 60 points. This season, they have one more win after 54 games and five more points. They were able to manufactur­e points early on, unlike last season.

The Hawks need to return to those ways.

“Every season



in Chicago, we’ve had stretches of good hockey and bad hockey,” winger Patrick Sharp said. “To compare it to last season, I don’t think it would be fair. Every team goes through rough patches. We’re certainly in one now. As I mentioned before, we’ll be a better team for it.”

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