Blackhawks committ 'cardinal sins' in wild loss


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."


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.

Rookies finding their way with Blackhawks

Rookies finding their way with Blackhawks

Since joining the Blackhawks, Tyler Motte’s been all over the place in the lineup: third line, second line, top line and back to the third line.

For the rookie, that’s no problem.

“They keep you on your toes, keeps the guys loose. No one gets too comfortable in their spot,” Motte said of the line changes. “Especially me, as a young guy, I like that. coming in every day, you may get a little different taste. Keeps you on your toes, keeps you working hard.”

No, this is not a story about line changes — we’ve had plenty of those and there will likely be more in the future. This story is about how the rookies are handling things in this very early season, be it taking on responsibility handling the ups and downs and working through those line changes.

For the most part, the young forwards and defensemen have done all right. Michal Kempny has been solid, and should be back in the lineup Friday night when the Blackhawks face the New Jersey Devils. Gustav Forsling was doing fine prior to suffering an upper-body injury against Calgary on Monday night. He’s out against the Devils but could be back on Sunday vs. the Los Angeles Kings.

As for the forwards, Motte, Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman have been in the lineup for most or all of these early games. Be it the higher level of play or the speed, they’re adjusting as they go.

“I just think obviously the first couple of games you’re nervous. Playing against the best players in the world, it’s definitely a big step. But as the games go on you get a better feel of what to do with the puck and you realize you have a little more time than you think when you have it,” Nick Schmaltz said recently. “I think I’m just slowing the game down and just trying to play my game. I feel more comfortable out there every shift, every game.”

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Growing pains are expected. Coach Joel Quenneville said it’s about how the young guys adapt to everything.

“With all of them, basically, we’re looking for consistency. That’s how their games are going to get better, because they do have some good attributes that have them here,” Quenneville said. “From there, let’s get to where they’re getting better, and that’s with the little things and with the pucks and that intensity that grows knowing that’s what this league’s all about. The guys who work harder come up with more pucks.”

Hartman already knew what to expect, given he made his NHL debut in February 2015. He certainly knew the physical requirements of the game immediately — just YouTube his big hit, on his first NHL shift, on former Devils forward Dainius Zubrus.

“You start to learn what to expect,” Hartman said. “If it’s a certain team you’re playing against you know how the game’s going to go. The speed of the game and the systems, too, are a big thing with Joel. After playing however many games I’ve played now, it all comes together.”

Every player, regardless of experience level, has to adjust and roll with changes, be it lines or responsibility. For the veterans, maybe it becomes a bit of old hat. For the rookies, they’re learning. And contributing. They’ll get there.

“Starting from the preseason the games were fast, physical. You get a little different taste, a little different strategy every night, depending on who you’re playing where you’re playing,” Motte said. “It’s been fast, it’s been intense. We’ve had some tight games which is all expected. There are no easy games in this league. You just have to go compete, do your best to win.”

PHOTOS: Blackhawks hit the road sporting Cubs attire

PHOTOS: Blackhawks hit the road sporting Cubs attire

The Blackhawks hit the road on Thursday, and they did so in style.

In support of the Cubs participating in the World Series for the first time since 1945, each member of the Blackhawks sported a Cubs jersey and World Series hat as they hopped onto the plane and traveled to New Jersey.

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It may not have been as whacky as Joe Maddon's themed road trips, but it's still a perfect excuse for breaking the dress code just this once.

Check out the photos below: