Maddening Blackhawks season changes course again with loss to inept Red Wings

The 2-1 defeat at the hands of the NHL’s worst team seems shocking. But considering the streakiness of the Hawks’ season, perhaps it’s not.

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The Blackhawks lost Friday against a Red Wings team on pace to be the NHL’s worst in decades.

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DETROIT — Blackhawks center Dylan Strome provided the understatement of the season this week.

‘‘I feel like we’re a pretty streaky team,’’ Strome said. ‘‘When we win one or two in a row, we feel like we go on a little bit of a run, and we’re playing some good hockey. Obviously, the counter to that is that we’ve lost four or five in a row at points.’’

Strome said that Tuesday, when the Hawks were on one of their hot streaks.

But they maddeningly crashed to the lowest of lows in a 2-1 loss Friday to the historically atrocious Red Wings, ending their four-game winning streak.

‘‘The guys competed and we generated some chances, [but] we didn’t finish,’’ coach Jeremy Colliton said. ‘‘To [the Red Wings’] credit, they did a good job defending and found a way to get a couple of goals. Tough not to get the result after the effort we had [in a victory Thursday against the Oilers], but we’ve just got move on.’’

The Red Wings’ ineptitude this season is difficult to capture in words. Even after beating the Hawks, they enter the weekend on pace for the NHL’s worst record in two decades, with only 16 victories in their first 69 games.

Entering the day, the Red Wings ranked 31st in goals for, 31st in goals against, 31st in shots for, 26th in shots against, 30th in power-play percentage and 30th in penalty-kill percentage.

All told, they’re the worst non-expansion team the NHL has seen in a long time. And that team just beat the Hawks — and deserved to, too.

The Red Wings neutralized the Hawks’ transition attack, took advantage of their injury-gutted defensive core and controlled the majority of shots and scoring chances in the first two periods.

‘‘We had trouble breaking out, especially early on,’’ Colliton said. ‘‘We didn’t make many plays, so it’s a lot of work then to generate any forecheck, generate zone time.

‘‘That grinds you down, too, when it’s, like, a one-man forecheck, two-man forecheck all the time. That’s something we’ll discuss, obviously, but a lot of it is we just didn’t have much juice.’’

The Hawks pushed hard for the tying goal in the third period, outshooting the Red Wings 17-5, but they still put nearly every chance directly into goalie Jonathan Bernier’s chest.

Colliton and defenseman Duncan Keith, who played more than 25 minutes for the second time in as many days, thought the Hawks’ work ethic was satisfactory. But captain Jonathan Toews was less certain.

‘‘We talked about them coming at us hard . . . and they did, and I don’t think our skating was there early,’’ Toews said. ‘‘We couldn’t quite get through the neutral zone, get pucks back in their zone and sustain any sort of pressure.

‘‘It was just up and down and back in our end, and we’d spend a shift there and that was it. We just played into their hands a little bit early in the game.’’

The NHL standings and playoff odds don’t care about quality of opponent. The Hawks remain in dire straits but aren’t completely out of the running with 14 games left.

But the missed opportunity, losing an as-easy-as-it-gets chance to extend their winning streak and pull even closer to the wild-card line, will be tough to digest.

Or maybe it won’t.

After all, the result Friday hardly feels out of place in this streaky and strange season.

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