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updated: 1/6/2012 11:04 PM

Hawks' defense springing a big leak

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  • Coach Joel Quenneville does not like what he is seeing from the Blackhawks defense, saying his team is giving up "too many goals."

    Coach Joel Quenneville does not like what he is seeing from the Blackhawks defense, saying his team is giving up "too many goals."
    Associated Press


The Blackhawks reached the halfway point of the season with a three-game losing streak and issues.

Most of them can be found on the defensive side of the puck where they have now allowed 120 goals after Friday's 4-0 loss to Colorado, their fourth in five games.

Yet thanks to an offense led by Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane over the first half, the Hawks are 24-13-4 and on pace for 104 points.

The Hawks still are first in the Central Division, but that could change as quickly as Saturday with their lead over Detroit and St. Louis at 1 point.

It's rare when a team has such a good record with a defense that has been so inconsistent.

Only Anaheim and Columbus, two of the worst teams in the NHL, have allowed more goals than the Hawks in the Western Conference.

It certainly appears time for general manager Stan Bowman to step up his efforts to acquire that defenseman he said he is out there looking for.

"For sure, too many goals," is how coach Joel Quenneville summed up the Hawks' defensive play over the first half. "We had a great stretch there prior to these last three games. We've been solid in net, but we've given up too many of the type of goals we saw tonight that can be preventable with positioning and awareness."

The second defense pair of Niklas Hjalmarsson and Nick Leddy have had a rough week. Leddy was minus-4 in Friday's loss and Hjalmarsson minus-3 after both went minus-2 in Thursday's loss at Philadelphia.

Quenneville split up Hjalmarsson and Leddy in the second period, putting Brent Seabrook with Hjalmarsson and Duncan Keith with Leddy.

"I think (Leddy) has been very effective for us all year long," Quenneville said. "He's progressed here, but everybody has some games where it's not perfect for you and just fight through it."

The Hawks had little going for them against an Avs team that has won four in a row and nine of 10. The Hawks had only 5 shots in the first period and fell behind 2-0 early in the second period.

"We seemed a step behind the whole game and I don't know why," Keith said.

The killer goal for the Avs was the one David Van Der Gulik scored at 8:40 of the second period that was essentially short-handed, coming five seconds after a penalty expired.

After a turnover by Viktor Stalberg in the neutral zone started the Avs the other way, the Hawks botched things completely behind their net.

"They outworked us," Jamal Mayers said. "We're not going to make excuses in here. They outplayed us in pretty much every aspect of the game."

The Hawks have a perfect opportunity to get the bad taste out of their mouths from a bad week on Sunday when the Red Wings come to the United Center.

"We've got to come back Sunday and get a little (ticked) off," Mayers said.

"We've got to be excited what's next for us with a great big game against Detroit here Sunday," Quenneville said.