DENVER -- The scene in the dressing room spoke for itself.
“It might have been giveaways, it might have been coverage, it might have been mental,” coach Joel Quenneville said after the game.
Quenneville wasn’t happy with his defensive corps. They left Avalanche players wide open in front of the Hawks’ net, they committed turnovers at the most inopportune times and places and they didn’t help either goaltender.
“I feel bad for Marty [Turco],” Brian Campbell said. “We gave up things. There’s only so many 2-on-0’s he can stop.”
Turco was pulled after giving up four goals on 10 shots. In came Corey Crawford, who nearly stole the game, but defensive lapses late in the contest came back to haunt the visitors as they gave up two goals in one minute with less than three to play.
The captain of the Blackhawks was asked his feelings on the loss.
“Devastating, embarrassing, humiliating,” Jonathan Toews said. “I don’t know what word you want to use but it’s not going to be a good one. I don’t know what it is. You ask that team over there if they thought they deserved to win tonight. I’m sure they’ll tell you they played far from their best game too.
“I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t seem to matter who we play against, but our level of satisfaction gets right up there for no reason in particular. I don’t really understand it. That’s what ticks me off so much. We know what we have to do as a team to go out there and find a way to win with five minutes left and up a goal and we just do the things that are going to set us up to fail. It seems like we’re going to come in here [the dressing room] all ticked off but what’s that going to do? The game is over, we didn’t get two points. I really don’t know what to say right now.”
And that was just his answer to the first question. He had more to say.
“Q came in here and said it afterwards,” Toews continued. “It’s contagious. When a couple guys start being lazy and don’t do the right thing, well, the next guy is going to do the same thing.
“It’s pretty frustrating to sit here and talk about something like that when it’s so easy to go out there and do it. Just go out there and play and do the right thing instead of talking about it all the time.”
The Hawks have been playing better, so was this a fluke or the culmination of a season-long problem of play in their own end? Usually, Quenneville talks of team defense, but he let the forwards off the hook in this game.
“You can say up front we weren’t bad, but our defense had a bad night,” he said. “Across the board, our back end had a tough night.”
Quenneville didn’t name names but a glance at the box score tells the story: Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were each minus-4. Keith was on the ice for six goals against, Seabrook for five. And they didn’t pass the eye test either. Turnovers and sloppy play by the dynamic duo were more the norm than the exception.
“Our heads were somewhere else tonight,” said Campbell, who was only minus-1, of the defense. “There’s no excuse for that. As bad as we played, I think they were ready to be had, too.”
And that’s the heartbreaking part of the story. The Avalanche blew four one-goal leads, nearly handing the game to the Hawks, who couldn’t finish the deal.
“Some games you remember that got away from you that feel like you got kicked in the guts,” Quenneville said. “That was definitely one of them.”