Blackhawks must take heed of latest wakeup call

Blackhawks must take heed of latest wakeup call
March 31, 2014, 7:00 pm
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Marian Hossa talked of the mistakes made, the opportunities lost and the points uncollected on Sunday night.

“Maybe it’s a wakeup call for the whole team,” said Hossa, a few minutes after the Chicago Blackhawks wrapped up a 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh and a disappointing 0-3-0 mark on the road trip. “We have to start working smarter and be on the same page. It’s coming toward the playoffs. It’s crucial.”

Yes, indeed, this does look like a wakeup call, one to which the Blackhawks definitely need to respond. Problem is, the Blackhawks haven’t responded accordingly to a few wakeup calls they’ve already had.

[MORE: No disciplinary hearing expected for Orpik's hit on Toews]

They haven’t responded to the last several games, where they’ve usually trailed early and usually lost. Once trailing, the Blackhawks have gone on the defensive and it hasn’t been successful. They haven’t responded enough to the losses of Patrick Kane (left leg) and Bryan Bickell (upper body); the Blackhawks needed everyone to do a little more but, for the most part, they haven’t.

They didn’t respond accordingly when Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik’s hit sent Jonathan Toews out of the game with an apparent left arm injury. By this one we mean there was little physical response after that hit, when the Blackhawks should have been doling out clean, message-sending and legal hits.

So now it’s another wakeup call, this in the form of defeat in three consecutive games and four of their last five. While the Blackhawks have let points slip away, their division rivals have played well. Colorado is now one point ahead of the Blackhawks with two games in hand, holding onto that home-ice edge in their likely first-round series.

[WATCH: Hossa says Hawks must play tighter]

“You don’t want to have a losing skid before the playoffs but that’s where we’re at right now,” Corey Crawford said. “We just have to keep playing hard and not let this get to us, not let this snowball into something worse.”

Yes, we know the Blackhawks are closing in on their time of year: the playoffs. They’ve done well in them the last few seasons and know how to flip the switch at the right time to be ready for them. Still, they’re reaching a danger area with these losses, and how they’ve played in them.

Sunday wrapped up a road trip that could be another wakeup call for the Blackhawks. They haven’t responded to them very well in recent games; they have to now.