There was no bag skate Saturday for the Blackhawks. It was pretty much business as usual for a team that has won only six of its last 16 games.
That meant a tough 30-minute practice with an emphasis on battle drills -- coach Joel Quenneville's version of a bag skate.
The NHL's winningest coachesBlackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville is about to join the 700 club for regular-season wins among NHL coaches. Here's a look at the top coaches in NHL history:
1. Scotty BowmanTotal wins: 1,244
Teams: Blues (110), Canadiens (419), Sabres (210), Penguins (95), Red Wings (410)
2. Al ArbourTotal wins: 782
Teams: Blues (42), Islanders (740)
3. Joel QuennevilleTotal wins: 698
Teams: Blues (307), Avalanche (131), Blackhawks (260)
4. Dick Irvin Sr.Total wins: 692
Teams: Blackhawks (45), Maple Leafs (216), Canadiens (431)
5. Pat QuinnTotal wins: 684
Teams: Flyers (141), Kings (75), Canucks (141), Maple Leafs (300), Oilers (27)
6. Mike KeenanTotal wins: 672
Teams: Flyers (190), Blackhawks (153), Rangers (52), Blues (75), Canucks (36), Bruins (33), Panthers (45), Flames (88)
Source: Hockey Hall of Fame
"We don't go much longer than that," Quenneville said. "That's as long as we go anyways. But we didn't like the way we played last night. We've got to play harder and be harder to play against. I think that was today's theme.
"If you're looking for a perimeter, nonconfrontational kind of game, the other team will accommodate that."
The players heard their coach loud and clear.
"I don't think Q's happy," Patrick Sharp said. "We're not happy either. A lot of the things costing us games are preventable."
The Hawks are coming off 2 straight losses, including Friday's 3-2 setback at home at the hands of the Nashville Predators, the last-place team in the Central Division, a defeat that left Quenneville as frustrated as he has been all season.
"We didn't challenge pucks and weren't hard on pucks in the puck area," he said. "We were easy to play against. Both were definitely winnable games."
That includes Wednesday's 3-2 loss at Colorado that dropped the Hawks into third place in the division.
"Whenever you're in a situation like we are in now, it's easy to try and do too much out there and try to make an extra play," Sharp said. "I think it's more of a mental focus allowing you to do the little things to be successful. The mistakes we're making aren't from a lack of energy or fatigue."
Quenneville disagreed with Sharp on that.
"I wouldn't say we're guilty of trying to do too much the last couple of games," Quenneville said. "I'd like to see more of trying to do something. I just think our speed, our pace, our puck support and work ethic is eroded a bit, particularly the last two games.
"We can't be happy. We lost some tough games the last couple. But the games that bothered us more than anything, it wasn't the right play. We didn't play the right way to give ourselves a chance to win."
Thus the emphasis on battle drills.
"You address it all kinds of ways," Quenneville said. "We did a drill today that is kind of the way we have to win hockey games. We've got to come up with the (puck in) tough areas, and we've got to get to the tough areas. We've got to win some 1-on-1 battles."
Sharp was asked if this was simply a lull or something more serious.
"It's a good question," Sharp said. "I think we're just frustrated right now with how things have played out, especially the last two games. But we've got an opportunity to put a big game (Sunday) and get points that we desperately need if you look at our standings.
"Every night things are changing, but aside from points standings, we want to get back to playing our style of play that makes the Hawks successful.
"I think every season, every year, there's ups and downs and peaks and valleys, if you want to call it that. We're definitely in one now, and when you're in those downtimes of a season, you've got to work even harder to get out of it."
Next up for the Hawks are the Detroit Red Wings, who have problems of their own to worry about.
They'll be at the United Center on Sunday, but they won't have Henrik Zetterbarg, Pavel Datsyuk, Daniel Cleary, Joakim Andersson, Stephen Weiss or Darren Helm because of injuries. Those injuries are threatening to keep the Red Wings out of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference for the first time in 22 years.
"We still believe in what we have in here," Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall said.
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