It happened in March of 2015, when the Blackhawks lost three of four, including back-to-back losses to the Flyers and Blue Jackets. It happened in March of 2014, when the Hawks lost four of five, including two shutouts. It even happened in the March of 2013, when the Hawks lost three of four soon after their record 21-0-3 start.
And it’s happening again.
The Hawks lost their third straight game Monday night, a rather dismal 5-0 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings. They’ve lost four of five, and have scored just 10 goals in those five games. The previous three March stumbles ended in a combined 10 playoff series wins and two Stanley Cups, so perspective is necessary here. But all three losses have come against Western Conference contenders (they at least salvaged a point in an overtime loss at St. Louis), and all three have come after the Hawks loaded up at the trade deadline. On top of that, the Hawks are as healthy as they’ve been all season. There are no excuses, just losses.
“Tough couple of games, but we’ve seen that before,” Jonathan Toews said. “We’ve been through that before. We know not to over-react and start second-guessing ourselves and really let that lack of confidence creep in our minds.”
Toews couldn’t fault the effort, but this was a poor showing all around. Corey Crawford gave up two goals in 18 seconds early in the first period, to Kris Versteeg and Milan Lucic, before Vincent Lecavalier (in the second) and Dustin Brown (in the third) tacked on insurance goals. The Hawks defense was porous and sloppy. And the offense was stifled by the stout Kings, with Joel Quenneville even resorting to putting Patrick Kane (held without a point for three straight games for the first time this season) on the top line with Toews in an effort to find him some open ice. Only six of the Hawks’ 16 shots in the first two periods came at even-strength. And Kings goalie Jonathan Quick was brilliant on the shots that did make it through, making 32 saves.
“I don’t know [if it’s] alarming, but you certainly lose a lot of ground and meaningful points,” Quenneville said. “Positionally, we have some work ahead of us.”
It’s nothing new. But it’s nothing to be easily dismissed, either.
“Some of these games are tough to swallow,” Toews said. “We’ll try to get whatever it is out of our system.”