GM still looking for answers on defense

CALGARY -- Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is still looking for defensive help in advance of the Feb. 27 NHL trade deadline but also believes in the current group.

“We’ve said for a while we’d like to strengthen our defense,” Bowman said on the Hockey News Radio Show on XM Satellite radio on Friday. “I’m comfortable to the way we have our personnel currently, knowing that there are always opportunities to improve that group. Our top four defensemen have played very well, but you do concern yourself with overloading them too much, so if you’ve got guys in the third pair that can eat up some more of those minutes it would be an ideal situation.”

Bowman talked the day after an 8-4 defeat to Edmonton, the Hawks second blowout loss in that city this season. His team dropped a 9-2 game in November.

“It’s turned into our house of horrors this year for sure,” Bowman said. “It was not a good effort from our group but time to regroup.”

The Hawks give up 2.92 goals per game, ranking 25th in the NHL and 14th in the Western Conference.

“There are a lot of teams still in the race,” Bowman said. “There are a lot of buyers and no one is selling so we’re at a logjam right now. I’ve had numerous discussions with seemingly every general manager and everyone is kind of the same way. There are no players available. There is a lot of talking about what you’d like, but I’m just not seeing those players readily available. At some point that will turn, but it’s hard to say when.”

Though the they have had defensive issues for most of the season Bowman feels the Hawks' winless streak (0-3-1) is just part of the ups and downs of the season.

“It’s probably not too far off,” Bowman said. “You try not to over react. On balance we’ve had a good season to date. I wouldn’t term it a great season, but I think we’ve been, not too far off the top of the pack the entire season. And now it’s just trying to tighten up those areas that you think need tightening up ... I think overall, these things do happen to every team, and we have to find a way to battle through it.”

Bowman expects the logjam in the trade market to dissipate as the deadline approaches.

"We’ve got players in mind that might help us out, but they really aren’t available at the moment so we’re trying to improve from within,” Bowman said. “As we get closer to the deadline that will play itself out more."

The Hawks take on the Calgary Flames on Friday in the third game of a nine-game road trip. They’re 0-1-1 in the first two contests.