Frustrated Blackhawks battling confidence issues after 4-0 loss to Flyers
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PHILADELPHIA — Indignity? The Blackhawks know all about it. It was on full display in Saturday’s 4-0 defeat against the Flyers.
Pick a goal, any goal. Philly’s first was scored by star Claude Giroux, who took advantage of an awful giveaway by defenseman Duncan Keith deep in the zone and beat -Corey Crawford with a backhand shot late in a first period the Hawks had dominated.
Sean Couturier plowed over Keith to get the puck at the blue line as a second-period Hawks power play ended, then easily fought off Chris Kunitz’s feckless attempt to stop his momentum as he skated in on Crawford and scored for a 2-0 lead.
Goal No. 3? It merely went in — Couturier’s second — off the skate of former longtime Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning, who joined the Hawks in July as a free agent and, well, let’s just say he has yet to distinguish himself with his new team.
By the time Nolan Patrick finished things with an empty-netter — after he deked Keith and left the veteran splayed on the ice in shame — the Hawks might as well have been waving a white flag.
That’s an 0-6-1 hole the Hawks have fallen into in their last seven games, folks. That’s 64 goals allowed on the season, easily the most in the Western Conference. That’s last place in the Central Division and an ugly 0-for-2 — the Hawks having fallen behind 4-0 in each game — since icon Joel Quenneville was fired and replaced by the youngest coach in the NHL, 33-year-old Jeremy Colliton, who has about a -million things to prove and has yet to begin checking boxes.
“I thought we were right in it until 3-0,” Colliton said. “We score one at any point, and we can probably get some energy out of it and make it a game.”
Here’s an incredible nugget: The Hawks are 0-14-1 in Philly in regular-season games since 1996. How does that happen to an organization that had such stellar teams during that time? Probably just one of those strange coincidences.
But there’s nothing coincidental about the Hawks’ losing streak. They are playing poorly, making killer mistakes, bringing uneven effort and emotion. They are, frankly, getting what they deserve.
It’s hardly a matter of bad breaks, and they know it better than anybody.
“There’s a little bit more than that,” Crawford said. “We’ve just got to keep battling, I think. Play a little bit harder. I need to find a way to come up with some big stops. I don’t know. It’s pretty frustrating.”
Captain Jonathan Toews contends that the players are together, that strengthening communication and the bonds in the locker room has been emphasized since the start of the season.
There are other problems, though.
“I don’t think we’re the most confident group in the history of the game, that’s for sure,” Keith said. “But confidence comes by scoring some goals and working hard and winning games.”
And about that one “F” word used by Crawford:
“It’s hard not to get frustrated,” Keith agreed. “That’s the biggest thing, staying positive. For myself, especially, I can do a better job of that and help us get out of the losing streak.”
Colliton aims to do his part, too, of course. His message to his team after another loss?
“Guys, we’re not that far away,” he said. “I know it feels like we are because of the score, but I don’t think that was a 4-0 game.”
Let’s be real: It was plenty bad enough.