CHICAGO -- At the end of the day, Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is a defenseman at heart, having played the position for a decade in the NHL. So when his team’s defense plays poorly, it’s going to frustrate him.
Saturday’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche was one of those moments.
Quenneville didn’t want to talk about missed shootout attempts or power-play chances in his postgame press conference. He wanted to talk about the shaky defense.
"All four goals are cardinal sins [of] how we defend or how we play situational plays,” he steamed. “All led to their goals."
None may have been worse than the tying goal, scored with under two minutes to play in regulation. As Ryan O'Reilly carried the puck through the neutral zone, he moved from his right to his left at the Hawks blue line. Duncan Keith followed him, as did Andrew Brunette. Nick Leddy didn’t move from his right defense position, which left Gabriel Landeskog wide open where Keith used to be. He finished on the play after receiving the pass from O’Reilly.
Keith couldn’t break up the play, Brunette was caught wandering and Leddy was asleep at the wheel.
“The puck was coming across the blue line and I think it was Duncan and I don’t know who the other guy was,” Leddy said. “Duncan got it up. I don’t recall the whole play. Their player got it and missed it to the middle and he shot and scored.”
Leddy remembered his great rush up ice which led to a goal a lot better. At the time it looked like the Hawks would get a great comeback win.
“Every goal was directly our responsibility,” Quenneville kept on. “We can’t serve them up like we did tonight. All the plays we talk about daily … we played them all poorly.”
And if you’re looking for blame there was enough of it to go around.
On Paul Stastny's tally to open the scoring, Keith and Dave Bolland let him hang around the slot unencumbered. When David Jones scored from a bad angle from behind the Hawks net, it was Niklas Hjalmarsson and Bolland who had two bodies on one player leaving Jones with time and space. On Landeskog’s first goal, Steve Montador stood in the slot, letting Landeskog crash the net for an easy tap-in.
Then came the tying goal. Quenneville was asked if there was a bad
bounce on it.
“Bad bounce? No. Bad play by us,” he said.
With the shootout loss the Hawks have earned at least one point in six consecutive contests after an opening-night loss, but it’s the goals given up which will haunt the head coach, at least until the next game.
“You could say one was worse than other,” Quenneville said. “Progressively worse for me.”