Blackhawks committ 'cardinal sins' in wild loss

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Blackhawks committ 'cardinal sins' in wild loss

Coach Joel Quenneville was frustrated enough at what the Chicago Blackhawks didn't get against the Colorado Avalanche. But he saved his real anger for what they allowed.

Gabriel Landeskog scored with less than two minutes remaining in regulation and the Blackhawks' poor defense against that and three other goals cost them in a 5-4 shootout loss to Colorado on Saturday night.

The Blackhawks went up 4-3 on Marian Hossa's goal with 5:27 remaining in regulation before Landeskog's tying goal. They had a 4-on-3 power play in overtime and the shootout to still salvage a victory but came up empty in both.

But the lack of defense was what ate at Quenneville.

"We gave them four goals. All four are cardinal sins on how we defend situational plays," said Quenneville, whose frustration peaked with the Avalanche's fourth goal. "You could say one was worse than the other and it got progressively worse for me. Bad bounce (on the fourth goal)? No, bad play by us."

Joakim Lindstrom was the lone player to connect in the shootout; Lindstrom did a double fake before beating Corey Crawford with a wrister. Michael Frolik, Jonathan Toews and Jamal Mayers also scored for the Blackhawks. Duncan Keith had two assists. Paul Stastny and David Jones also scored for the Avlanche.

Landeskog was by himself for the tying goal after several Blackhawks focused on Avalanche center Ryan O'Reilly, who fed Landeskog from the left-side boards. For a team that prides itself on a defense -- and that defense has been pretty solid otherwise this season -- Saturday was disappointing.

"Every goal was directly our responsibility," Quenneville said. "We know how to play those situations. We can't serve them up like we did tonight."

The Blackhawks nevertheless had a chance in overtime when they had nearly two minutes of a 4-on-3 power play. They came up empty.

And the shootout also remained anemic, as Viktor Stalberg, Patrick Kane and Toews failed to get one past Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov. The Blackhawks have yet to connect on it this season (0 for 6 shots).

"We've got to be better at that, too," Kane said. "Obviously you're not going to score if you're 0 for 3 and you give three of their best shooters a chance. It's something we've got to be better at."

Quenneville said he didn't like the Blackhawks' approach on the shootout and that they "have to do something different" to get it going.

"These guys know those situations and how they see it and feel it," Quenneville said. "Whatever thought process you have, sometimes you may be able to be flexible."

Regardless of the disappointing ending, the Blackhawks are still collecting points. They've gotten at least one in six of their first seven games -- the season opener in Dallas is their only regulation loss. The Blackhawks got away from their sound defense on Saturday night. They'll be looking to get it back quick.

"Obviously you want to keep that (late) lead but bounces happen sometime," Stalberg said. "They ended up with a fluke breakaway, I thought, but we should not let that happen, for sure."

Briefly

Patrick Sharp played in his 500th NHL game on Saturday; he also recorded his team-high fifth assist, on Hossa's goal.

Hossa has now scored a goal in each of his last four games. Toews has a goal in each of his last three games.

Johnny Oduya finds a new home in Eastern Conference

Johnny Oduya finds a new home in Eastern Conference

Johnny Oduya is headed to the Eastern Conference.

The 35-year-old defenseman signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Ottawa Senators. The contract could be worth up to $1.25 million with incentives.

Oduya, who the Blackhawks re-acquired prior to the trade deadline last season from the Dallas Stars, finished with two goals and seven assists in 52 games between the two teams.

It comes to no one's surprise that the Blackhawks didn't re-sign the veteran defenseman.

After being swept in the first round of the playoffs last season by the Nashville Predators, Stan Bowman has made it clear the Blackhawks are headed in a different direction, and their offseason has been plenty of busy so far. Headline deals included trading Oduya's linemate Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes for 24-year-old defenseman Connor Murphy and re-acquiring Brandon Saad from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Artemi Panarin.

Oduya heads to a Senators team which got ousted in the Eastern Conference Final in seven games to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Confident Blackhawks youth ready to take the next step

Confident Blackhawks youth ready to take the next step

Ryan Hartman likes how he feels approaching this season, his sophomore stint with the Blackhawks. Scoring 19 goals, earning the trust of the coaches and gaining a good deal of responsibility in your rookie season will do that for you.

“It’s feeling like I should be there,” he said on Friday. “Maybe sometimes when you first get called up, you’re like, ‘Wow, I’m here,’ and you’re still thinking about that. Now it’s just feeling like hockey for me and how it’s always supposed to be.”

More confidence is there for Hartman, as well as a few other young Blackhawks players who cut their teeth last year. That’s good, because those guys, having shown what they can do, will likely get more responsibility this season.

That includes Nick Schmaltz, who will either get first crack at the second-line left wing vacancy or help the Blackhawks at center, which he says is his preference “but I’m fine with wing, too.” Schmaltz struggled to start last season but following a few games in Rockford, he returned a more confident player. He played well with Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik on the top line and filled in for Artem Anisimov later in the season.

“I was nervous coming in. I didn’t know if it was going to work and I gained confidence game by game and felt more comfortable,” he said. “I was making the plays I’m used to making.”

When Tanner Kero was recalled right before Christmas, it was because of Anisimov’s injury. But outside of a bye-week return to Rockford Kero turned that call-up into a full-time gig, giving the Blackhawks another bottom-six center option and earning himself a two-year contract. With Marcus Kruger and Dennis Rasmussen no longer here, Kero is expected to have that third- or fourth-line center role; thanks to experience gained last season, Kero’s more comfortable now.

“It was great,” he said. “Going in, you’re not sure. It’s day-to-day to start and you just want to prove yourself and get those opportunities, get trust and more ice time. As the season went on I got more confident, trusted my game more. Going into the season I’m going in with a lot more confidence.”

John Hayden felt fairly comfortable when he joined the Blackhawks last spring thanks to his senior season at Yale – “I needed that fourth year as a player and a person,” he said. Still, getting in some NHL games, getting a feel for the pro level and gaining familiarity with the Blackhawks will benefit him in September.

“It’s important considering it’s my first training camp and I’ll know a lot of the guys, which helps a ton. From an on-ice standpoint, I have that experience,” he said. “I’ve spent a ton of time addressing areas in need of improvement all in all I’m excited for training camp.”

But Hartman and others don’t see it as weight on their shoulders.

“I don’t think there’s pressure,” Hartman said. “When you look back you want to see improvements every year, you want to see yourself becoming a better hockey player. That’s something I want to do, I want to be able to look back and say I had a good career my first year but each year I got progressively better. That’s where my mindset is at.”

There’s more opportunity for the young players but Hayden says that’s true of everyone.

“I don’t really analyze opportunity. Regardless of the team, it’s going to be competitive,” he said. “Every summer you have to have a hard-working mindset and do what you can to show up in the fall in the best shape of your life.”

The Blackhawks’ young players have all set the bar at a certain level and will be expected to improve. It takes confidence to take that next step. Thanks to experience gained last season, they’re feeling good about taking it.