Frustration grows as Blackhawks drop fifth straight

661796.png

Frustration grows as Blackhawks drop fifth straight

Updated: Friday, Feb. 3 at 11:35 p.m.

CALGARY, Alberta Another night in the province of Alberta, another loss. And with a losing streak stretching back before the All-Star break, the frustration is building.

Brent Seabrook scored late in the first period, but that was it as the Blackhawks dropped a 3-1 decision to the Calgary Flames on Friday night. It was a disappointing end to a rough start to this nine-game road trip. The Blackhawks are now 0-4-1 in their last five games.

The Blackhawks remain in sixth place in the Western Conference, but the gap there and in the Central, where theyre fourth, is widening. Detroit leads both with 71 points while the Blackhawks are stuck at 65.

The way weve been playing lately, we dont deserve to win, Jonathan Toews said. We played solid early on, stuck with the little things that we wanted to do it just slowly deteriorated. Bad habits crept into our game later and we started taking penalties again. We were better than last night, but it didnt take much to do that.

No, the Blackhawks wont miss coming to Alberta. Between Calgary and Edmonton, they went 0-4-0 and were outscored 25-9.

Sure, things were a little better on Friday three goals against is always better than eight, and Ray Emery was solid in stopping 29 of 32. They entered the second period tied 1-1. But the Blackhawks gave up four power plays again, with Jay Bouwmeester scoring the game-winner on a second-period power play.

Jarome Iginla later added his 19th of the season.

There were some good things. But we still think having to play catch-up, playing like that, is not easy, coach Joel Quenneville said. And keeping the puck out of the next is still an emphasis.

That didnt happen enough on one end, and the Blackhawks couldnt get it past Miikka Kiprusoff on the other despite 27 shots at him.

Its tough to see the puck not going into the net, Viktor Stalberg said. But there are no excuses. We have to find a way to get back on track. We have to fight through it and start winning.

The Blackhawks are lacking victories. The frustration, however, is starting to add up.

Its probably a little higher than Ill admit to, defenseman Steve Montador said. But well put the work in for how we need to play. Well take care of our own end and go from there.

The Blackhawks are reaching a critical point. This is the first five-game winless streak theyve had since March of 2009. Yes, that team won the Stanley Cup. The Blackhawks are capable of playing that stoic, strong defense and all-around game that put them atop the West and Central back in mid-January. They need to find that again. Soon.

I think stretches like this get your attention. We can learn from this, Quenneville said. We havent had a challenge like this all year. Its up to us to get back and look at things positively and recapture how we felt early in the year.

Blackhawks make another change, fire Rockford coach Ted Dent

Blackhawks make another change, fire Rockford coach Ted Dent

Ted Dent was another longstanding member of the Blackhawks' organization. On Tuesday, he was the latest to be let go.

Dent, head coach of the Rockford IceHogs for the past six seasons, was fired on Tuesday morning. Dent spent a total of 11 years in the organization; he was the IceHogs' assistant coach for five seasons before taking the head coaching job for the 2011-12 season.

Just over a year ago, the Blackhawks gave Dent a three-year contract extension that was set to run through the end of the 2018-19 season.

"The Chicago Blackhawks thank Ted for all of his contributions throughout his tenure with the organization," Blackhawks general Manager Stan Bowman said. "He played a major role in helping a number of players reach the NHL level with the Chicago Blackhawks, many of whom became Stanley Cup champions. We wish Ted and his family the best."

The IceHogs didn't have the depth this season they had in previous years, and they struggled all season en route to a 25-39-9-3 record. The struggles got worse after the March 1 trade deadline, when the Blackhawks sent Spencer Abbott and Sam Carrick to the San Diego Gulls (Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate). At the time, Abbott led the IceHogs in points with 35 (15 goals, 20 assists) and Carrick was second with 28 points (11 goals 17 assists).

After the two were traded, the IceHogs went 4-12-1.

It's the second consecutive day in which the Blackhawks fired a member of their organization's coaching staff. Mike Kitchen, the Blackhawks' assistant coach since 2010, was fired on Monday. Kitchen and head coach Joel Quenneville have been friends going back to their NHL playing days, when the two were teammates with the Colorado Rockies and the New Jersey Devils. Kitchen was also part of Quenneville's coaching staff in St. Louis.

Blackhawks fire assistant coach Mike Kitchen

Blackhawks fire assistant coach Mike Kitchen

When Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman addressed the media on Saturday, he said that there would be change. That started on Monday when assistant coach Mike Kitchen was fired.

The move came five days after the Blackhawks were swept out of the first round by the Nashville Predators. Bowman said in a statement that, “we believe this decision is best for our organization moving forward. Mike had an impact on two different Stanley Cup championship teams during his tenure in Chicago. We appreciate his many contributions and wish he and his family success in the future.”

Kitchen has been a member of coach Joel Quenneville’s staff since 2010. The two go back to their playing days, however, when they were teammates with the Colorado Rockies and also the New Jersey Devils. Kitchen was Quenneville’s assistant when the two were with the St. Louis Blues and when Quenneville was fired as Blues coach midway through the 2003-04 season, Kitchen was promoted to head coach.

As part of the Blackhawks’ staff Kitchen’s focus on special teams, mainly the penalty kill. That kill finished the regular season 24th overall in the league, although that has to come with an asterisk. The penalty kill started the 2016-17 season so poorly that it was never going to get too far out of the basement. It did get stronger as the season wore on, and it was fourth overall during the Blackhawks’ short stay in the playoffs.