RALEIGH, N.C. — The Blackhawks are playing like a hockey team without belief.
They’re still saying all the right things, at least when it comes to their on-ice performance. But in a 6-3 loss to the Hurricanes on Friday that extended the Hawks’ season-opening losing streak, they simply didn’t seem confident enough to turn the tide when things started going badly.
“Eight games in and we don’t have a win — it’s terrible,” Brandon Hagel said. “Early on, it’s like, ‘Let’s keep playing the same way. We’re going to get out of this. We’re going to get out of this.’ We’re still trying to do that, we’re still trying to stay positive... But obviously, the first win is in the back of everyone’s mind.”
After setting a league record by not leading once through their first six games, the Hawks have actually shown early jump and scored the first goal in each of their last two.
The undefeated Canes quickly turned the tide, though, scoring five unanswered goals in a 14-minute stretch straddling the first intermission. And Hawks coach Jeremy Colliton, as has been the case far too often this season, seemed out of ideas about how to stop the tsunami.
“We allowed them to get back into the game too easily,” Colliton said. “We’ve got to make them work [harder] for what they get... In the first period, you can’t expect to beat a team like that when you’re giving up two-on-ones, three-on-twos, getting beat inside at our net.”
The Hawks remained down four guys, including Patrick Kane, on COVID-19 protocol. They lost another, Tyler Johnson, to an apparent arm or wrist injury that is expected to keep him out of Saturday’s game against the Blues, at the least.
One bright spot was the debut of defenseman Isaak Phillips, who became the first alumnus of Team Jamaica to play in the NHL.