They don’t want to hear it.
The Blackhawks know exactly where they reside in the standings, and they don’t care.
Whether it’s smart, or even worthwhile considering they’re currently in prime position for this summer’s draft, they steadfastly believe a playoff run is possible and intend to chase it.
“We’re going to play until we’re out of it,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “No reason to give up. We’ll do everything we can.
“We have to get better. We’re not good enough right now. We have to play better. And so that’s how we’re going to approach each day and then we add it up at the end, see where we’re at.”
It needs to add up to a blizzard of points very quickly or Colliton won’t be able to play the we’re-still-mathematically-alive card much longer.
The Hawks begin the All-Star break today with 45 points, the fifth-lowest total in the NHL. They’re in a tier with the Senators, Flyers, Kings and Blues. No one even considers those other teams making a charge, and no one would give the Hawks a sliver of hope if they didn’t have the iconic players who led them to three Stanley Cups.
Two of those stars, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, are now playing on the same line in Colliton’s last-ditch move to turn things around. They both scored in shootout Tuesday night to close the first half of the season with a 3-2 win over the red-hot Islanders.
Imagine how this season has wafted through the locker room. Kane, Toews, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith are less than four years removed from winning it all, and captured the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference nearly two years ago before exiting pitifully in a first-round sweep by Nashville.
“We’re all competitors,” Kane said. “We all want to win. It’s our job to instill that in these younger guys that it’s not just OK to be in the NHL every day and just playing a hockey game. It’s more important to take advantage of it.”
Ah, the younger guys. That’s where this shifts if the Hawks can’t shock the hockey world by going from dead last to a playoff berth.
Kane acknowledged the team has to, “go on a couple 10-game win streaks or something to get ourselves there.” Ten is daunting for a team that hasn’t strung together more than three straight wins all year.
He also acknowledged what happens if they can’t make that grand ambition a reality.
“If we don’t, the biggest thing is to try and not have that losing mentality creep into this locker room, especially for a lot of these younger guys,” Kane said. “The older guys have been there, they’ve done it.
“We’ve been a part of winning and knowing what it feels like to win, and now we’re trying to do the best we can to implement that into the team and make the young guys feel that as well.”
Is the nebulous concept of a winning culture more valuable than angling for Jack Hughes, the presumptive No. 1 pick in the draft?
For better or worse, the Hawks have too much pride to willfully free fall like their United Center roommates, so their answer is yes. They’ll keep playing Toews and Kane heavy minutes, keep the door open for Corey Crawford to return and keep scrapping for wins like the one they got Tuesday.