Blackhawks lacking shooter’s touch
By Ben Meyer-Abbott firstname.lastname@example.org October 24, 2011 10:36PM
Duncan Keith and the Avalanche’s Matt Duchene battle for the puck Saturday at the United Center. | Bill Smith~Getty Images
Ducks at Blackhawks
The facts: 7:30 p.m., CSN, 720-AM
Updated: November 26, 2011 8:19AM
Joel Quenneville wasted no time in making it clear to his players what he wanted them to work on.
After failing to score on all three shootout attempts in a 5-4 loss Saturday to the Colorado Avalanche, Quenneville had his team doing shootout drills — normally reserved for the end of practice — shortly after they took the ice Monday at the United Center.
Quenneville was equally succinct with reporters afterward, boiling down to one word what he wanted to see in future showdowns with opposing goalies.
“Production,” he said.
The Blackhawks are 0-for-6 on shootout attempts after falling to the Avalanche and Boston Bruins. The aggravation of failing to take two points compounded the fact that the Hawks held third-period leads in each game.
“It’s frustrating after losing in a shootout because it’s almost like it’s a real loss and you didn’t get anything out of it,” Patrick Kane said. “If you win those shootouts, everyone’s excited and upbeat and everyone thinks you played a great game. When you lose in a shootout, it’s like there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”
The Hawks have yet to find their comfort zone. Kane and Jonathan Toews are 0-for-2 while Patrick Sharp and Viktor Stalberg are 0-for-1.
“With the shootout, it’s a funny thing,” said Marian Hossa, who was 0-for-2 in shootouts last season. “When you look closely [at] Toews or Kane last game or the one game before we had the shootout, they beat the goalie but they were a little bit maybe too close.”
Toews (45.5 percent) and Kane (30.0) were the Hawks’ most consistent shootout performers last season, and Quenneville said their place as the top two selections for the one-on-ones is safe.
Beyond that, the Hawks coach is open to any and all suggestions, most notably settling on a reliable third shooter.
“We’re discussing orders, we’re talking about candidates and shooting first or second,” Quenneville said. “When things don’t work, we look at options.”
Quenneville doesn’t want to add any anxiety for his players, but he does want the situation addressed and the Hawks to return to the form that saw them convert on 10 of 32 shootout attempts (33.3 percent) last season, tied for eighth in the league.
“We haven’t been anywhere near as effective as we were [last season]. We know we can be better,” Quenneville said. “There’s things where there’s some awareness to what the goalie’s trends are. There are some things that we can do where we can be a little bit more effective.”
Despite the slow start, Kane is confident he and his teammates will be able to deliver on their coach’s desire.
“It’s a matter of time before we get better at that,” Kane said. “There’s too much talent in the room and too many players that should score on those that aren’t right now. We’ll be fine when it all comes together.”