Change has to come for struggling Blackhawks

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Change has to come for struggling Blackhawks

At 35,000 feet on the road back from Phoenix to Chicago, the Sam Cooke classic, A Change is Gonna Come was playing on the old iPod shuffle.

Its appropriate, really. Because as the Chicago Blackhawks muddle through their eight-game winless streak, a change has gotta come. And at this point, it may have to be a drastic change.

The Blackhawks are past the struggling point. This may be more of a reeling point. And when a team that many including its bosses pegged for a long playoff run is suddenly in danger of falling out of the top eight, somethings got to give.

So what will the Blackhawks do? Will there be a coaching change? Do they need a major acquisition? Do they make an eye-popping, multi-player deal?

Only time will tell, but you have to think something has to happen soon.

Firing a head coach during a big slump is nothing new. Its already been done, what, six times this season? Sometimes it works, as with St. Louis bringing in Ken Hitchcock. But it may not be the right move for the Blackhawks right now. Yes, coach Joel Quenneville changes lines at a furious rate, probably too often. But at this point his dismissal would be a temporary salve, a band aid on a gaping gash.

And if the Blackhawks make one big move before the trade deadline, would a top-four defenseman solve all the team-defense ills? Likely not. No, it may take making a big move, and it may have to be for a goaltender.

General manager Stan Bowman said he was confident in his goaltenders, but that was on Feb. 3, before the Blackhawks lost four more in a row. Between Corey Crawford and Ray Emery, neither of whom have proven to be a true No. 1 this season, they gave up 14 goals in those four games.

The trading markets probably going to be a tough one. Its going to take giving up something to get something. It may singe a little, but it cant hurt any more than an eight-game winless streak.

The Blackhawks didnt expect this kind of skid. Theyre doing everything they can to hold onto a playoff spot, but they need a jolt and they need it fast. This is going to be a true test for them, be it players, coaches or team brass.

A Change is Gonna Come. It has to.

Blackhawks recall Johansson, assign Schmaltz

Blackhawks recall Johansson, assign Schmaltz

The Blackhawks will be without their No. 1 goaltender for a few weeks, so the obvious backup call-up came on Sunday morning.

At the same time, the Blackhawks are going to give one of their forwards a little work in the minors.

The Blackhawks recalled goaltender Lars Johansson from the Rockford IceHogs on Sunday morning. They also assigned forward Nick Schmaltz to the IceHogs.

Johansson has a 6-7-1 mark with 2.63 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 16 games. This comes one day after Corey Crawford had an appendectomy in Philadelphia prior to the Blackhawks’ 3-1 loss there. Crawford, according to the team, is expected to be out 2-3 weeks.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Schmaltz has a goal and three assists in 26 games with the Blackhawks this season. Schmaltz is one of several forwards who got a top-line opportunity this season and, much like most of the others, couldn’t stick there. He has struggled to find a consistent game.

The Blackhawks face the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night. Scott Darling is expected to get the start.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back vs. Jets tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back vs. Jets tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Winnipeg Jets tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Seeking revenge.

In their first meeting of the season, the Jets ended the Blackhawks' 11-game point streak by shutting them out 4-0 in Winnipeg. The Blackhawks will look to get even tonight when the Jets come into their building, where the Blackhawks are 10-1-2. The Jets haven't been as successful away from home, carrying a 4-8-2 road record into the United Center.

2. Tired legs? Not so fast.

It will be a quick turnaround for the Blackhawks, who will play their second game in as many days traveling from Philadelphia to Chicago. But don't expect fatigue to play too much of a role. Well, maybe it will, but the Blackhawks have been close to perfect in the second of a back-to-back with a 4-0-1 record compared to 3-3-0 in the first game. It also helps that Saturday's game against the Flyers was at 12 p.m., giving the team some extra time to recover for a divisional matchup. The Jets, on the other hand, will being playing in their second game in as many nights as well, having played St. Louis last night which ended in a 3-2 overtime win for the Jets. 

3. Who's in, who's out on D?

Trevor van Riemsdyk returned to the lineup Saturday, and certainly showed some rust after missing more than six weeks with an upper-body injury. With it being the second of a back-to-back, the Blackhawks could look to rotate the blue line and reinsert Gustav Forsling, who was a healthy scratch for the first time, back into the equation and perhaps Michal Rozsival, too.

4. Patrik Laine.

The No. 2 overall pick in 2016 has scored four goals and an assist in his last three games, continuing his phenomenal rookie campagin. He's on pace to reach almost 40 goals, which is incredible for a rookie in an era where scoring gets harder and harder. He's tied with Sidney Crosby for the league lead with 16 goals, one of which came against Chicago in the first meeting. 

5. Capitalize on special teams.

The Jets haven't been particularly good on special teams lately. They're 3-for-26 on the power play in their last 10 games, which is an 11.5 percent success rate, and are 26-for-36 on the penalty kill (72.2 percent) in their last eight. Their power play percentage ranks 20th in the league at 15.2 and penalty kill ranks 25th at 79.0. They're trending in the wrong direction. The Blackhawks are still struggling to find a rhythm on the power play, so perhaps this is a good opportunity to break through.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

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