Hawks keep losing -- players and games

PITTSBURGH -- A collective sigh of relief could be heard all the way from Chicago when Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville declared that the injury to Jonathan Toews in the Hawks' 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday wasn’t serious.

But that doesn’t mean the situation with his team isn’t.

Toews is day-to-day, according to Quenneville, with what appeared to be a left arm injury. He’ll be re-evaluated on Monday.

The Hawks dropped their third straight game and, with the potential of playing without Toews for even a little while, they could be headed for more down days just as the playoffs approach.

“It’s been a bit of a rough one,” Kris Versteeg said after the game. “We’re just going to have to find ways to create offense.”

If Toews plays in the next game against the Minnesota Wild at home on Thursday, the Hawks have a fighting chance. Even with him they’ve scored just 11 goals in the past six games since Patrick Kane was injured.

“Whenever you lose players, someone has to step up and take the spot,” Patrick Sharp said. “In the case of those two guys, it’s tough to replace them.”

Sharp went on to say there’s always a next guy ready to do so, but it won’t be a player with the skill or grit of Toews.

Quenneville is trying to see the positive in a short-term Toews injury.

“This time of the year we want to make sure he gets better and fresh; whether he gets a break or not we’ll see,” Quenneville said.

That’s looking at the glass half full, but maybe that is Quenneville’s subtle way of saying he’s not worried about seedings or even home-ice advantage. Currently the Hawks don’t have it anyway. They’ve already clinched a playoff spot but are in a dogfight for home ice. They could play every playoff game at home, but if it’s without Toews and Kane they can forget about repeating as champions.

“Of course it would be a huge loss,” Niklas Hjalmarsson said of losing Toews. “This road trip has been a little bit of a wake-up call.”

Ah, the proverbial late-season wake-up call. If losing their third straight didn’t wake them up, maybe losing their captain will. The Hawks actually played better after he left the game -- but still lost.

“We played some good teams and they beat us,” Sharp said. “If that’s a wake-up call, that’s good. We can wake up and play better down the stretch.”

It would be a whole lot easier with their captain.