LOS ANGELES — The Blackhawks have suffered stretches like this before, even during the best of times.
They had eight losses in 11 games in March 2010, shortly before winning their first Stanley Cup of the modern era. They had eight more losses in 11 games in October and November 2010, not long after that Cup. And they had 10 losses in 13 games in January and February 2012.
It all goes to show that one horrible month isn’t necessarily season-killing, especially when it’s the very first month of the season. But that’s not much solace for Patrick Kane.
“It’s just frustrating when it’s happened a couple times last year and this year,” he told the Sun-Times. “A lot of us probably thought this year would’ve went differently to start, especially with the success we had last year at the end of the season and almost making the playoffs. [It] just hasn’t really translated for whatever reason. We’re all in the process of trying to figure that out.”
After a decent start, Kane’s production has slowed, with just one point in his last five games. His and Jonathan Toews’ line has featured a rotating cast of linemates, ranging from Drake Caggiula to Alex DeBrincat to Kirby Dach, and none have encountered much success there.
Kane has at least found his groove more than Toews, who still doesn’t have a point during full strength this season.
And with a 3-6-2 record and just eight points in the standings, the Hawks are tied for last in the Western Conference.
“It’s easy to get negative when you’re losing games, and your record is what it is,” Kane said. “It’s tough, it’s a lot easier said than done. But if you can stay positive, especially through these times, and see that when things are bad, they probably look worse than they really are, [that’s helpful].”
Making that search for optimism all the more difficult is just how dreadful Tuesday’s performance in Nashville — the first stop on this four-game road trip — turned out to be.
“There’s not much to be positive about from [Nashville],” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “It’s more the juxtaposition from how we played against Los Angeles [on Sunday] and the result. The 50-50s we won and the races we won and the attention to detail that was there, we controlled the game. I understand that they’re two different teams, but I don’t think the difference between those teams is that large.”
Fortunately, the Hawks will enjoy another matchup Saturday against the Kings, one of the teams tied with the Hawks for last in the conference.
And while Kane’s comment about the numerous losing skids of recent years is correct, this current stretch is not yet as severe as those of winter 2018 (13 losses in 16 games) or, infamously, fall 2018 (19 losses in 22 games).
As the Blackhawks’ youth revolution begins, the team’s experienced core can provide the reassurance that slumps like this have happened before — even in the glory days — and that there are ways to snap out of it.
“The biggest thing right now is probably to be as prepared as possible going into the games,” Kane said. “Whether it’s watching your shifts, watching video, watching video on the power play, it’s feeling overly prepared so you can go into the game and just watch your instincts take over.”