Edmonton Massacre: Blackhawks embarrased by 9-2 defeat

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Edmonton Massacre: Blackhawks embarrased by 9-2 defeat

EDMONTON, Alberta The Blackhawks werent in Las Vegas on Saturday night but their minds may have been. Because for the second consecutive night, they watched a struggling team skate and score right around them.

Taylor Hall tallied a hat trick, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had five assists as the Edmonton Oilers pummeled the Blackhawks 9-2 at Rexall Place. It was the second awful loss in as many nights for the Blackhawks, who once again suffered from team-wide defensive lapses and sloppy play.

Were unhappy. Were embarrassed. Were pissed off. Im not going to lie, Jonathan Toews said. Every single guy couldve been better out there. Not one guy, not two guys, everyone.

Patrick Sharp said, right from the first shift we didnt do anything right and it carried on through the whole 60 minutes.

After beating the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 on Wednesday, the Blackhawks have now been outscored 14-4 in their last two games, including Friday nights 5-2 loss in Calgary. And while it looks like the Blackhawks will keep their plans to spend these next two days in Sin City, they have a lot to think about on their mini vacation.

That was thoroughly embarrassing, humiliating across the board, said coach Joel Quenneville. I think there are a lot of culprits tonight that share in that feeling they were off in both games. Both games werent up to par. Lets all accept some responsibility knowing it wasnt good enough.

And on Saturday it didnt take long for the Blackhawks to fall apart. Edmonton scored off a Blackhawks miscue just 48 seconds into the game. About seven minutes later the Blackhawks were down 3-1. After the first 20 minutes they were down 5-1. Starter Ray Emery was pulled after allowing those first three goals in the opening 7:32, but was back in net to start the second period Corey Crawford allowed two in his first-period work.

But the Blackhawks biggest problems are outside the net, not in it. Theyre making a lot of mistakes, and too many of them are ending up in the back of their net.

I felt coming in I wanted to respond. I was energetic coming into the game. The next thing you know its in the back of our net, said Duncan Keith, who was a minus-4 for the second consecutive night. Obviously I have to find a way to be off the ice for some goals. Its not going my way. I just need to be better.

The Oilers were much like the Flames on Friday night: struggling and just looking for the chance to break out of a four-game losing streak. They were also missing four of their top six defensemen. It didnt matter. The Oilers were easily the more determined and opportunistic group and the Blackhawks had little to no fight in retaliation.

We had a very poor start, we kept taking penalties and kept digging ourselves into a hole, Toews said. That team was desperate to make us pay for some of the games we might have had in the past couple of years. They stuck it to us pretty good.

The Blackhawks will get away from hockey for the next two days. But they wont get away from the sting from these last two games. This is not Blackhawks hockey, and its especially not the hockey they had played in their four-game winning streak.

They need to reverse their fortunes. And that needs to happen even after they leave Vegas.

Our record is pretty good but I dont think if you went around individually and ask guys how theyre playing theyd say At the top of their game, defenseman Sean ODonnell said. Weve had spurts. We havent had a super difficult schedule. Heres hoping these two losses wake us up a little bit because we have a tough game Wednesday (in San Jose). We need to right the ship right away.

Injury update

Michael Frolik (shoulder) and Brent Seabrook (leg) did not play on Saturday night. Quenneville said both skated Saturday morning, and both will be re-evaluated when the Blackhawks resume practices on Tuesday in San Jose.

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Eight draft picks in about 3 ½ hours. It was a busy Saturday for the Blackhawks, and when general manager Stan Bowman talked that afternoon about the team’s Day 2 haul, he came prepared.

“I have my little cheat sheet,” Bowman said of the paper on which he had written the Blackhawks’ eight newest prospects.

After a few days’ worth of moves the Blackhawks focused on the future, taking nine players over two days at the NHL Draft. It was a successful weekend for the Blackhawks, who hosted the draft for the first time and built up assets, especially on the blue line. Five of the Blackhawks’ nine selections were defensemen.

“One of the things we talked about was looking at the market. There’s a high value on defensemen. We’re not necessarily looking at the draft but our team this year and over the next couple of years; those are the assets that are valuable around the league,” Bowman said. “Look at the trade Calgary made [for Travis Hamonic], defensemen are a valuable commodity. That was a priority coming in and we were able to accomplish it.”

What comes next

The Blackhawks got what they wanted at this weekend’s draft but the focus will soon shift, as free agency opens on July 1. It remains to be seen what the Blackhawks will have cap-wise come a week from now. Currently, according to CapFriendly.com, they’re $1.445 million over the $75 million cap. It’s doubtful the Blackhawks apply the long-term injured reserve tag on Marian Hossa during the offseason. It’s possible they could still trade Marcus Kruger to gain some space. Bowman said, one way or another, “there will be some movement.”

“We’ll bring some players in, I don’t know how many, what position or what level,” he said. “This is where there’s a lot of activity, the couple weeks in the middle of June until the middle of July. That’s when the most changes happen. We’ll go to work, now that we’re past this.”

Wait for it

The Blackhawks also have to decide whether or not to qualify restricted free agents Dennis Rasmussen and Tomas Jurco. Bowman said that’ll be decided by Monday.

“I’ve had discussions with both agents,” he said. “I don’t have an answer right now but we’ll have that worked out in the next day and a half.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson heard some of the rumors, but not to a large degree. The former Blackhawks defenseman wasn’t spending a lot of time on the internet reading up on his potential fate. He figured he’d still stay put in Chicago.

“But when my agent called me about the 10-team list, I understood it was serious. Stan [Bowman] wouldn’t ask for that unless they made up their mind already,” Hjalmarsson said via conference call on Saturday. “That’s when it hit me that I’m probably not going to put the Hawks jersey on anymore.”

Indeed, Hjalmarsson’s next jersey will be that of the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired him in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy on Friday. Hjalmarsson’s departure marks the end of the line for another Blackhawks core player, and this one is jarring in how it will change the team’s defense.

Speaking of change, Hjalmarsson faces a lot of it himself now. Sure, there’s the obvious change for a guy who’s played his entire career in one place. It’s new surroundings and a new team, on which he knows former Blackhawks teammate Antti Raanta and fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

But the Coyotes have dealt with a lot of upheaval lately. Goaltender Mike Smith is gone. So is veteran Shane Doan. On Thursday, head coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes parted ways.

“They’re on a rebuild, a lot of new faces, lot of changes,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s tough to know what to expect but I think they’re a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I’m looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs.”

Hjalmarsson should find chemistry with Ekman-Larsson – the two were teammates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi – and Hjalmarsson will likely play a bigger role with the Coyotes. Arizona will probably look to Hjalmarsson a lot during its rebuild, given his Cup-winning history.

The first 24 hours were full of mixed emotions of Hjalmarsson. With his limited no-move clause, he was always a likely candidate to be moved from a Blackhawks team laden will full no-move clauses. He’s turning a page, but he won’t forget his time in Chicago anytime soon.

“I’m trying to always be a positive guy,” Hjalmarsson said. “I spent my whole 20s in Chicago, 10 unbelievable years. I didn’t think I’d win three Cups. Hopefully I can get one more before my career is over. I had the best time in Chicago, enjoyed every single year, playing in front of the best fans in the league. I’ve been spoiled. Now it’s time for me and my family to move on and seize the opportunity in Arizona and create some new fond memories.”