GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Add a new wrinkle to the unraveling of the Chicago Blackhawks' season: A shutout. The Hawks dropped their eighth consecutive game 3-0 to the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday. And while they’ve given up three goals or more in each contest, at least they scored in the previous seven. Not on Saturday.
“We need something,” a frustrated Jonathan Toews said afterwards. “We don’t care what it is. Something has to give in to make us feel good about ourselves. … I’ve been searching for words for a while now. It’s getting even harder to explain it right now.”
Just think how hard it is to watch.
On some nights it’s the five-on-five defense, on others it’s the penalty killing and on every night during this streak it’s been a putrid power play. The Hawks went 0-3 on Saturday and are 0-16 in the first six games of their long road trip.
“Big goals on the power play can help swing the momentum,” Patrick Sharp said. “Even if you don’t score there’s ways to sustain the momentum.”
Sharp had seven of the Hawks' 38 shots on net but Mike Smith turned them all away. And once again, the opponent’s goaltender outplayed his counterpart. Smith’s shutout was the sixth time this season the Hawks didn’t score in a game. Fifty-six games into the season the Hawks still remain without a shutout of their own. As for momentum, they’re barely earning it, and when they do, they give it right back.
“It’s still all about our work ethic,” Toews said. “That team came out harder than we did tonight. It’s frustrating to see that.”
How is that possible? Losers of seven straight, the Hawks know Phoenix plays well with the lead. But there was Ray Emery losing his net early in the first period while Radim Vrbata banked one in off defenseman Sami Lepisto. The game was basically over but Phoenix added one more in the opening 20 minutes for good measure.
“The onus is on a lot of guys in here but first and foremost you have to look yourself in the mirror and try to figure out what you have to do better,” Patrick Kane said. “I know myself right now, I have to pick it up. Score goals, you have to make plays and get points to help the team out.”
Kane had one shot on net so saying it and doing it are two different things. The Hawks have no answers because there are too many questions. Joel Quenneville has been in hockey a long time. He must know a formula for getting a team out of a rut like this.
“You have to change technically how you approach the game,” he said. “You have to play tighter…We just need one game and we’ll get more confident. That’s what we need. I’m very confident in this group.”
He might be the only one right now. There is no magic solution here. The Hawks have to gut out a win even if they don’t deserve one. They haven’t come close lately. Not since Game 1 of the road trip, a 3-2 overtime loss to Vancouver.
“We feel like it’s going to tip in our favor,” Toews said. “Something has to give. It just isn’t. I don’t understand.”