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updated: 3/15/2014 1:23 AM

Sharp, Kane need to find 'on' switch

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  • Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp looks down during the second period of Friday's game against the Nashville Predators in Chicago. The Predators won 3-2. Sharp has one goal in his last 11 games.

      Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp looks down during the second period of Friday's game against the Nashville Predators in Chicago. The Predators won 3-2. Sharp has one goal in his last 11 games.
    Associated Press

 
 

It was back in January and the Blackhawks were riding high after beating Anaheim and Boston in a span of three days.

But since those impressive wins that weekend things haven't gone as smoothly. The Hawks have won just six of 16 games after Friday's 3-2 loss to last-place Nashville at the United Center, raising red flags across the board.

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Another slow start doomed the Hawks, who fell behind 2-0 in the first period and never fully recovered.

"I thought the pace to our game and the intelligence to our game were nonexistent the last two games," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

Stinging words from the boss.

The Hawks have stopped scoring and stopped working hard on a regular basis and subsequently have dropped to third place in the Central Division behind St. Louis and Colorado.

"We've got 15 games left to gain some ground," Patrick Kane said. "We need to get back to playing the way we know we can."

That's easier said than done. The Hawks need to find that switch and flip it back on fast.

Kane is part of the problem. Jonathan Toews has been excellent with 7 goals since the Olympic break, but Patrick Sharp and Kane need to pick it up. Kane has 2 goals in the last three games, but before that had 4 in 22. Sharp has 1 goal in his last 11 games.

The power play is 2-for-31 and gave up a goal right at the end of a power play on Friday to Ryan Ellis that turned out to be the winner. The Hawks still lead the NHL in goals with 227, but the Blues (219) are catching up fast.

Trades by general manager Stan Bowman for center Peter Regin and defenseman David Rundblad haven't worked out to this point, though Regin had 1 of the Hawks' 2 goals in Friday's loss. Both deals have had little impact, although Rundblad has appeared in just one game.

At least Quenneville realized he can't continue to play Sheldon Brookbank at wing because it's just wasn't working out. Brookbank was back on defense on Fridau.

Bringing up Jeremy Morin would be the logical thing to do before too much longer.

Teuvo Teravainen's expected arrival, perhaps as soon as this week, could help. Teravainen is only 19 and without NHL experience, but it's worth a shot to see if he could play with Kane and Sharp on the second line.

Michal Handzus looks old and slow and has proved he is not the answer at second center.

The other lines need stabilizing as well, especially the third line. Bryan Bickell is such a key for the Hawks. He's making $4 million to be an average player at the moment.

The first-round matchup with the Avalanche is going to happen. Neither the Hawks nor the Avs are going to catch St. Louis, leaving the second and third seeds in the Central to do battle in the opening round.

The Hawks are going to have to play some great hockey down the stretch just to get home ice in the series with the Avs.

tsassone@dailyherald.com

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