Quite a rough day for Chicago Blackhawks
If the Blackhawks didn't hit rock bottom Monday, then you have to wonder where the floor is.
A crazy day that included a mysterious injury to Andrew Shaw, an investigation into assistant coach Marc Crawford, Dylan Strome admitting trying to play through headaches, and the Hawks announcing that they'd dress just 17 skaters against St. Louis finally ended with a lackluster 4-0 setback to the defending champs at the United Center.
"Very disappointed with the result," said coach Jeremy Colliton, who was once again without Duncan Keith (groin), Strome (concussion) and Drake Caggiula (concussion). "I didn't think we played with the energy we needed to be good. Execution wasn't there either."
It's incredible how quickly the Hawks' fortunes have changed.
Just two weeks ago, they were 9-7-4 and right in the thick of the playoff picture. In the seven games since, Colliton's squad has plummeted to the bottom of the Central Division, thanks in large part to a nonexistent power play that's gone 2-for-20 and a sievelike defense that's getting beaten on nearly every shift.
"(The goalies) been unbelievable for us all year, and we've got to do a better job of letting them see pucks and not giving them those Grade-A chances," said Brent Seabrook, who has 1 assist in 25 games.
The Hawks, who did not have a shot on goal in the game's first 11-plus minutes, fell behind on MacKenzie MacEachern's goal at 2:34 of the first period. The SOG stat ended up at 10-10 by the end of the period, although most of the Hawks' shots were long-distance attempts that had little chance of getting past Jake Allen.
Jaden Schwartz made it 2-0 at 14:22 of the first period, and Brayden Schenn put the game away midway through the third.
The Hawks (10-12-5) were forced to dress 17 skaters instead of the customary 18 because they don't have enough salary-cap room to add another player. The only way they could have done that was to place Keith, Strome or Shaw (who is "undergoing further evaluation") on long-term injured reserve. Doing that, however, would force one of them to miss 10 games or 24 days.
Colliton and Seabrook refused to use injuries or the 17-skater issue as an excuse, however.
"St. Louis is missing guys, too," Colliton said. "We have to find a way to come through. You've got to find a way to get points. You can't go a bunch of games and not get points.
"It makes it too hard. The hill you've got to climb is too much."
The Hawks went just 1-3-1 during this key five-game stretch against division foes, with their only victory coming over Dallas, which played the night before. In the last three games, all losses, the Hawks were outscored 16-5.
"We played three terrible games," Seabrook said. "It's definitely frustrating when you're out there, but we've got to work through it (and) we've got to be better."
Said Colliton, who will now prepare for a road game against the 19-3-5 Bruins on Thursday: "We have a good enough team -- as we've shown -- to put a run together. But it's got to happen now."