Blackhawks’ dour play a concern
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org February 25, 2012 11:30PM
Hawks goalie Ray Emery (30) replaces Corey Crawford, who was pulled after giving up four goals on 10 shots. | AP
Updated: March 27, 2012 8:29AM
LOS ANGELES — Plenty was bad for the Blackhawks.
The power play.
The penalty kill.
The result is more questions about a team once considered a serious contender. A victory Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks might alleviate some concerns, but the Los Angeles Kings’ 4-0 victory Saturday at Staples Center doesn’t inspire much confidence.
Dustin Brown, who was the hot subject in trade rumors just days ago, led the onslaught with a hat trick and an assist. Goalie Jonathan Quick needed only 19 saves for his seventh shutout as the Hawks were held without a goal for the seventh time.
The Hawks undoubtedly missed an injured Jonathan Toews for the third consecutive game. They’ve lost two straight since winning four in a row after their dismal nine-game losing streak. The Hawks remain in sixth place in the West, but they’re only five points from eighth. The Nashville Predators have a six-point lead over the Hawks.
“We know we have a little bit of a margin, but that’s not the point of concern right now,” forward Viktor Stalberg said. “The concern is how we’re playing. We have to be better.”
Especially on the power play.
The Hawks’ power play has floundered since the All-Star break, but this was one of the worst performances of the season. The Hawks went 0-for-6, including 0-for-4 in the first period. They’re in an 0-for-39 funk, last scoring a power-play goal Jan. 24.
“You can say our desperation wasn’t where it needed to be,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think we lost — whether it’s our confidence or our pace to the game — because our power play has been having a tough go. It’s slowing us down.”
The Hawks struggled to set up, get shots through (only seven) and maintain constant traffic. They tried different units again.
“To me, it was the difference in the game,” forward Patrick Sharp said. “There comes a point where you stop talking about X’s and O’s. When a goalie is making saves, you just have to bear down and put one in.”
Corey Crawford allowed four goals on 10 shots and was replaced by Ray Emery after 26 minutes, 49 seconds. The Kings, who recently acquired center Jeff Carter in a big trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets, came in averaging a league-worst 2.05 goals per game.
“It wasn’t [Crawford’s] fault tonight,” Quenneville said. “We’re not blaming him at all.”
The Hawks blamed their special teams. Brown scored twice in the first period on power plays and made it a three-goal lead 4:56 into the second on a short-handed breakaway after the Hawks faltered in the neutral zone.
Defenseman Willie Mitchell also scored.
It was the second straight poor offensive performance by the Hawks. In three games without Toews, they only have three goals despite averaging more than three per game for most of the season.
An efficient power play would help.
“Every point is huge for us right now; we dug ourselves a huge hole, and we’ve got a young team,” defenseman Brent Seabrook said. “We didn’t have the performance we wanted.
‘‘I thought L.A. came out early and turned on the PP. They buried a couple early on us, and our response wasn’t there.”