Blackhawks meet to find answers for recent struggles

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The Blackhawks haven’t looked like they did at the end of 2014. Since New Year’s Day they’ve gone 3-5-0 and allowed 10 goals in their last two games, getting away from what made them look like the NHL’s best all-around team entering 2015.

Perhaps one reason the Hawks have struggled is a lack of focus on what made them so good. So to address that, they watched some tape and held a team meeting before Monday’s optional skate.

“Leadership stepped up and we’ve got to expect teams wanting to beat us,” Andrew Shaw said. “We’re a good team and we have a lot of great things going for us, but we haven’t been playing our best hockey in the past few games and we’ve got to come out there the rest of the year and push to make the playoffs.”

It’s an understatement that the Hawks haven’t been playing their best hockey. The defense has struggled and they’ve struggled to win battles and do the smaller stuff necessary to beat teams.

They’ve paid for it, and will enter Tuesday’s game with the Arizona Coyotes third in the Central Division. And clearly, it was time for the Hawks to have a talk, though coach Joel Quenneville said it was more about watching the recent clips.

“I think details, little details eroded particularly the last couple of games, more so last night than the Winnipeg game (Friday night),” Quenneville said. “I think you want to make sure that game-in, game-out that can be the difference – be it off the faceoff, be it penalty killing. Those goals are preventable, last minute of the periods, those type of things.”

Those type of things needed to be addressed – with both video and some more talking.

“It just kind of depends. Sometimes it can be once a week, could be once a month,” Ben Smith said when asked how often these meetings happen. “It just kind of depends on how the season goes but it seemed for us like a much-needed meeting today and just to get back to what we do well as a team, get back to our team game and bring that kind of effort tomorrow.”

If the Hawks do that, they should be fine. They know that, and Shaw said the gist of the meeting was to reinforce that they’re good and should play how they can.

“It was a lot of positives,” Shaw said. “We looked over some film and now we’re looking forward to the next game.”

Antti Raanta, who’s starting in net Tuesday night, said the players feel better after a meeting that came one day after a 6-3 loss to Dallas.

“Everybody knew that we haven’t been playing like we should play,” Raanta said. “Of course there was good things yesterday also – there has been good things – but it’s always when you have to come back from a couple goals, it’s always tougher.

“Hopefully tomorrow is a new day for us and everybody’s feeling better after today.”

NOTE: Eleven players skated Monday. They were Shaw, Smith, Raanta, Daniel Carcillo, Corey Crawford, Marcus Kruger, Tim Erixon, Joakim Nordstrom, David Rundblad, Patrick Sharp, and Teuvo Teravainen.

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