After pretty much rolling through the first three months of the season, the Blackhawks have hit a wall in January, losing five of eight since the calendar turned.
On Monday, coaches and players addressed the recent skid — which includes back-to-back home losses to Winnipeg and Dallas — by holding a team meeting.
More, from ESPN Chicago:
The meeting included players and coaches before the team’s optional practice at 11:30 a.m. Players and coaches spoke during it.
“Whoever it is in the room, it’s important guys step up, coaches step up,” Blackhawks forward Ben Smith said. “We’ve had a good enough leadership group here that we’re going to pay attention to everything those guys say. Obviously you listen to your coaches because they know what’s going on. They have a better grasp of what’s going on with the team. I think deep down individually we all know we have to be better. We have to get back to what brought us success earlier in the year. We’re looking to do that tomorrow.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has been emphasizing to his team to concentrate more on the details. He believes it’s something they have failed to do as of late.
“Details, little details eroded the last few games, more so [Sunday against the Dallas Stars] than the Winnipeg game,” Quenneville said. “Game in, game out, that can be the difference. Be it off a faceoff, be it penalty killing, those goals are preventable. If you’re doing the right things, maybe you’re not in your own end.”
The numbers from this skid aren’t good. Chicago’s allowed a ton of shots — 37, 35 and 34 in its last three games — which is uncharacteristic from a club that on average holds opponents to under 30. Not surprisingly, those shot totals have translated into increased goals against; the Jets and Stars combined for 10 over the last two games (Dallas has played Chicago twice in January now, and scored 10 times.)
The timing of today’s meeting is worth mentioning, too. After hosting a lowly Arizona club on Tuesday, Chicago heads out on what could be its toughest stretch of the season — a grueling seven-game road swing through Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose, Minnesota, Winnipeg and St. Louis.
(Granted, the All-Star break occurs between the Pittsburgh and Los Angeles games.)
It’s pretty obvious Chicago wants to right the ship in advance of this trip. The ‘Hawks are squarely in the playoff picture with 58 points, but sit third in the wildly competitive Central Division and ahead of current wild card holder Winnipeg only because of the regulation wins tiebreaker.
Translation: They can’t take any nights off.
“There are no easy games,” Quenneville said. “No games you think you’re going to just get two points. It’s going to be a hard-fought two points every night. That’s where we’re at.
“Everyone feels they’re part of it in our division. You have to value those two points.”