Blackhawks shut out by Coyotes, losing streak reaches eight
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com February 11, 2012 11:24PM
Kyle Chipchura beats Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery in the second period Saturday. | Ross D. Franklin~AP
Updated: March 13, 2012 10:37AM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The mere notion of coach Joel Quenneville getting fired seemed so far-fetched even when the Blackhawks were in a bad slump earlier this season. After all, he’s the coach who led the Hawks to their first Stanley Cup in decades.
Now, regardless of how many holes the Hawks’ roster might have, it’s hard to believe he’s not on the hot seat. At the very least, the demands to get the Hawks back on track are reaching excruciating levels.
“I feel the pressure of winning a hockey game,” said Quenneville, who’s signed through the 2013-14 season. “It’s when you don’t win, that’s what it’s all about.
‘‘We’re in the winning business, and this has gone on too long here.”
The Hawks lost their eighth game in a row and their 10th straight on the road when the Phoenix Coyotes blanked them 3-0 Saturday at Jobing.com Arena. Thanks to their strong first half, the Hawks are still sixth in the Western Conference, but they only lead the Los Angeles Kings by two points and the Coyotes by three with the same amount of games played.
Mike Smith was stellar in goal for Phoenix, making 38 saves, and Radim Vrbata, Boyd Gordon and Kyle Chipchura scored.
Ray Emery stopped 24 shots as lapses at both ends cost the Hawks.
There’s plenty of blame to go around for the Hawks’ fall from grace. General manager Stan Bowman and the rest of the brass deserve some for forming a roster that isn’t as deep as they pitched, and there are plenty of players underachieving. But it can be argued that Quenneville hasn’t made the right adjustments or gotten through to his team, either.
Quenneville admitted he might have been too passive earlier in the season with the Hawks’ defensive game when their stars were outscoring everyone.
Their power play is in an 0-for-16 funk on the road trip. Their penalty kill allows way too many shots to reach their goalies and is ranked 28th. Their overall defensive coverage — despite numerous meetings and video sessions — has shown few signs of improvement. The offensively gifted Hawks also shouldn’t be shut out six times.
“Now is the time to rely on the leadership,” Bowman said recently, “both in the coaching and from the guys in the locker room.”
With his Hall of Fame credentials and his success two years ago, Quenneville probably warrants a chance to play out the season, especially if Bowman makes a splash by the trade deadline and considering his players still trust in him.
“You always explore everything, whether it’s [changing] lines, combinations, [bag] skates or meetings,” Quenneville said. “When we were going through this stretch here, we’ve had a lot of meetings. At the end of the day, you want results.”
Bowman also isn’t one to act without considering the consequences or benefits. Removing the coach or another staff member would be viewed as a desperate move. But if the Hawks’ situation becomes more calamitous, desperate moves might be needed, whether it’s a major trade or a coaching change.
Right now, the changes have to come from within.
“We need something,” Jonathan Toews said. “If it was coming back from a 3-0 deficit tonight or we don’t care what it is. Something’s got to give. We need something to make us feel good about ourselves.”