Hawks forwards not getting it done defensively
The Blackhawks won't be back on the ice again until Tuesday and there's little doubt about where coach Joel Quenneville's focus will be for that practice.
Defensively speaking, the Hawks haven't been very consistent through the first 10 games, which their mediocre record of 5-4-1 reflects.
While there is plenty of blame to go around, it's the forwards who haven't been pulling their end of the rope on a nightly basis.
"The last couple games, especially the ones we lost, we're just sloppy," captain Jonathan Toews said. "There are second chances we're giving up around our goaltenders that we should be clearing.
"Especially as forwards, I think we're just skating through puck areas. We're not starting and stopping, and it's just little lazy plays that are catching up to us. We're giving up some ugly goals in our zone and they can easily be avoided if we just smarten up."
The Hawks have left a lot of points on the table starting on opening night in Colorado, when they lost in overtime.
What happened Saturday was the most maddening loss to date. The Hawks blew a 2-0 lead late in the second period and lost 3-2 to Columbus on home ice.
It was 2-1 when Troy Brouwer got a major penalty for boarding in the last minute of the second period that turned the game the Blue Jackets' way.
Brouwer is one of those forwards off to a poor start. He has no goals in 10 games and neither does Fernando Pisani.
Toews said following Saturday's loss that nobody is pointing any fingers, that it's a team problem when it comes to defending.
"The way I see it, it just feels like a couple times we get in a bad habit of wanting to cheat for offense," Toews said on the WGN 720-AM postgame show after Saturday's loss. "We just have to remind ourselves to check and not take any shortcuts in our own zone and we will get rewarded with chances offensively.
"As forwards there are a lot of things we can get better at. If we're just going to cheat and expect the defense to do all the work and get us the puck, it's not going to work that way. There are pucks we can clear, but we're just kind of skating past them and giving up good second opportunities around the net."
It's another busy week for the Hawks, who play four more games in six days starting Wednesday against Los Angeles.
"Defending is what we're talking about all the time," Quenneville said. "There will always be enough production here. It's just commitment to playing without the puck."
Notes:Center Evan Brophey was returned to Rockford on Sunday, meaning Tomas Kopecky likely returns Wednesday after missing Saturday's game with an upper body injury.