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.

Blackhawks acquire Michael Latta from Kings in swap of minor leaguers

Blackhawks acquire Michael Latta from Kings in swap of minor leaguers

The Blackhawks made a minor league deal on Saturday, announcing the acquisition of forward Michael Latta from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for defenseman Cameron Schilling.

Latta, 25, has two goals and four assists in 29 games this season with the Ontario (Calif.) Reign of the American Hockey League.

He has four goals and 13 assists in 113 career games in the National Hockey League, all with the Washington Capitals from 2013-16.

Latta, who was a third-round pick (No. 72 overall) by the Nashville Predators in 2009, will report to the AHL's Rockford IceHogs. He carries a $600,000 cap hit, and is a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Schilling ranked second among defensemen on the IceHogs with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 40 games, and had a minus-3 rating. The 28-year-old blue liner signed a two-year contract worth $575,000 per season with the Blackhawks in July 2015.

One-goal victories are great but Blackhawks’ method has to change

One-goal victories are great but Blackhawks’ method has to change

See the Blackhawks get off to a slow start. See the Blackhawks get outshot. See the Blackhawks lean on their goaltending. See the Blackhawks find some offense in the third period. See the Blackhawks win.

This is a story the Blackhawks have written and played out plenty this season. Despite all evidence that it should work out to the contrary, the Blackhawks continue to pull out victories. But as we're well into the second half of the season, how much longer can they win with this formula? And is this, more than anything, a testament to how much they need to acquire someone (or plural) at the deadline to bolster their forward lineup?

Entering Sunday night's game against Vancouver the Blackhawks remain second in the Western Conference, two points behind Minnesota. Not surprisingly, they enter Sunday coming off another one-goal victory, a 1-0 decision over Boston on Friday night. Friday's game was cut from the same cloth as so many other one-goal games this season (please see above for the script). 

Here's how the Blackhawks are doing in one-goal games (through 48 games played this season) and how they've done in previous seasons:

Year Record
2016-17 18-7-5
2015-16 17-7-9
2014-15 22-13-6
2013-14 17-8-15
2012-13 19-3-5 (lockout yr.)
2011-12 22-6-11
2010-11 16-13-9
2009-10 23-9-8

The Blackhawks played 41 one-goal games (half of their regular-season games) in the 2014-15 season. Thirty of their 48 games this season have been one-goal games. But again, it comes down to how you're winning those games, and the Blackhawks are winning just about all of them in the same way: deal with a slow start and come back in the third period, relying on goaltending the entire time.

Being outshot the amount of times the Blackhawks have this season remains alarming. Sure, sometimes a lot of shots don't mean a lot of quality chances. But it's still better than minimal shots, and any shot can be an opportunity for a rebound, a deflection, something. From our stats guru Chris Kamka, here's a breakdown of the Blackhawks' shots per game vs. opponents, dating back to 2008-09:

Year Shots/Gm Opp. Shots/Gm Diff.
2008-09 32.7 28.6 +4.2
2009-10 34.1 25.1 +9.1
2010-11 32.2 28.7 +3.6
2011-12 31.5 28.6 +3.0
2012-13 31.1 26.2 +4.9
2013-14 33.1 27.2 +6.0
2014-15 33.9 30.2 +3.8
2015-16 30.5 30.8 -0.3
2016-17 29.3 31.1 -1.7

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

It's no surprise that the Blackhawks' differential was especially good in their Stanley Cup-winning seasons (and even 2013-14, when they went to the Western Conference Final). Those Blackhawks teams were deep, especially at forward. They weren't waiting for the perfect shooting opportunities as much as just firing. They had great four-line rotations, something they've sorely been lacking the past two seasons, which makes a difference with puck possession.

The Blackhawks will see what's available at the trade deadline. As I wrote a few days ago, there will be names out there but, considering some teams are still hoping for playoff spots, you take mentions for what they are right now. Over the next few weeks the picture will become clearer, and adding the right depth could rekindle that four-line rotation.

We've said throughout this season that the Blackhawks can't keep this up. We said it in November, and December, and now. Understand where we're coming from here; the Blackhawks can absolutely keep winning one-goal games. They've shown that in recent seasons and in the postseason, when the ability to do that is critical. But it's doubtful they can keep doing it the way they have most this season.