Things don't get any easier for Hawks out west
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Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews says the team has to "get rid of bad habits and get rid of them fast."
The schedule maker isn't doing the Blackhawks any favors right now.
Saddled with a three-game losing streak, the Hawks must head out on a six-game road trip that leads into the two-week Olympic break. It starts Tuesday in Calgary, where the Hawks will look to pick up the pieces.
"We know what we need to do on the upcoming road trip," winger Kris Versteeg said. "We had a good road trip earlier in the year, and we're going to need a good one coming up here, too. We're going to have to go into Calgary and play (ticked) off, I guess."
The Hawks will be looking to repeat their circus road trip in November when they went 6-1. To do that they're going to have to get off to a good start in Calgary and Vancouver before the tough part of the trip begins in California with games against the Sharks, Kings and Ducks.
They close the trip with a game at Phoenix.
"It's a tough trip," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's definitely going to be some tough buildings, and the West is as competitive as heck. There's going to be meaning to every game. But let's look at the short term. Let's look at Calgary and let's be angry at what happened (Sunday)."
What happened Sunday was the Hawks blew a 1-0 lead in the third period and lost 3-1 to Winnipeg in their last game at the United Center until March 4. The Hawks dominated the game for the first 40 minutes, holding the Jets to 6 shots but let it get away in the third period.
"Because we didn't play the same way in the third period, you know they're going to get a turn and we're going to get some defensive zone shifts and we have to play the right way," Quenneville said. "We were a little bit uncomfortable in our own end when we did have zone time, which shouldn't happen."
Jonathan Toews thought the Hawks got too defensive in the third period.
"We played some good hockey in the first two periods," Toews said. "We're experienced and we know what we're supposed to do in those situations, but we just haven't done it lately. There's nothing really good to say about the finish of that game."
The Hawks thought they were back on track a week ago when they beat Boston and Anaheim at home.
"It felt like we were starting to see the light as far as getting our game back and getting four lines rolling and putting all the pieces together, but the last three games have gone back to that sloppy style of play we were playing before that," Toews said. "We need to get rid of these bad habits and get rid of them fast."
So is this a good time or a bad time to go out on the road for six games?
"Regardless, I think we need to play better," Toews said. "We need to keep reminding ourselves that we only have a handful of games before this break and it needs to be better. It needs to be better right now. We can't wait any longer."
The Hawks aren't getting anything from the third line of Michal Handzus, Bryan Bickell and Versteeg. In fact, Bickell was a healthy scratch against the Jets on Sunday.
"Coaches decision," Quenneville said. "We need more. We need a lot more. We're looking for more."
Next it could be Handzus on the bench, especially after center Brandon Pirri was recalled from Rockford on Monday.
"I think as a four-line rotation in our recent stretch here we haven't utilized it as consistent as we have in the past, and that can slow us down a bit," Quenneville said.
"The predictability of the four lines what we're getting one after the other after the other and keep the heat and the pace and the pressure on, it's been sporadic, whether it's that group or another group or another guy."
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