Hard-fought games leave Hawks struggling

CHICAGO -- Coach Joel Quenneville said it as plain as day after the Chicago Blackhawks dropped their second consecutive division game, 3-2, to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.

“5-4-1 kind of reflects where we are at, accurately,” Quenneville said of the first 10 games. “We have to be way better than we’ve been. All four losses in regulation, we’re tied in the later stages of the third period and [we] come up with nothing. That’s the tough part.

This one hurt even more since the Hawks were leading 2-0 very late in the second period. A five-minute boarding call on Troy Brouwer turned the tide for the Jackets. Brouwer wasn’t available after the game, but a couple of Hawks wondered about the call.

“Whether that was a five-minute penalty or not, I guess is debatable,” Duncan Keith said.

Brouwer hit Fedor Tyutin into the boards near the Blue Jackets’ bench. The call could have been a two-minute, four-minute, or most severe five-minute major penalty. The referees chose the harshest.

“[You] could argue,” is all that Quenneville would say about the call.

But Quenneville wasn’t focusing on something he can’t control. Instead, he’s looking at what the Hawks need to do better.

“Defending is what we are talking about all the time,” he said. “There will always be enough [offensive] production here, but it’s just a commitment to playing without the puck.”

And Keith summed up the obvious.

“This should be a lesson here to learn early on that you can’t get a lead and just sit on it,” he said.

Constantly being tied in the third period is a recipe to being a .500 team. Just watch the Hawks’ first 10 games for proof.