With Another Loss, Pressure Mounts For Struggling Blackhawks

On Friday night in Calgary, the Blackhawks lost for the fifth consecutive time. The Flames snapped a two game losing streak and ground out a 3-1 victory over the beleaguered Hawks.

For the most part, teams that are in a losing streak also don’t score enough. In the last five games, the Blackhawks have only recorded a total of 10 goals. That’s another reason the loss in Edmonton hurts a lot because the Hawks scored four times which should be enough to secure a victory.

Brent Seabrook had the Hawks lone tally which came at even strength. Usually another sign of a skidding club is they don’t put themselves in a position to win. Losing teams either make mistakes and are often shorthanded or don’t capitalize on power play opportunities.

On many nights, the club which reaches three goals first often ends up the winner. Through a combination of some Blackhawk mistakes and due to their fatigue, the Flames came away with a well-earned victory. It isn’t as if the Hawks aren’t trying but every game is a big challenge and there is little margin for error.

With the loss, Chicago has now dropped to fourth place in the Central Division. The Hawks have captured 65 points which ranks them sixth in the Western Conference, eight points ahead of Minnesota who is in eighth place.

The Western Conference is tight with only two points separating second place Vancouver and sixth place Chicago. A big concern is Detroit now has 71 points, as they sit atop the Central Division as well as the Western Conference.

The primary goal for the Blackhawks this season was to win the Central Division which then would have secured a top three finish in the conference. If the rest of the road trip goes like it has started, the aim for the Hawks will shift. With a few more losses, the Blackhawks will be more concerned with securing a playoff spot rather than catching Detroit to win the Central Division.

To no surprise, the best period for the Blackhawks was the first when they had enough energy to control much of the play. Ray Emery started in goal and did a decent job and gave his team an opportunity to win.

Emery wasn’t perfect, but when a club struggles and isn’t scoring there is no room for error by a goal keeper. Make no mistake, this wasn’t a goalie loss but rather a victory by the Flames who made fewer mistakes and had more gas in the tank in the third period.

The Hawks could never regain the lead after Michael Frolik took a four minute high sticking penalty, which resulted in Calgary’s second goal. The Flames won battles in front of the net and converted on a power play opportunity by defender Jay Bouwmeester coming off a rebound.

In the final period, the Flames iced the game as a long pass got through Duncan Keith and allowed Jarome Iginla to skate in alone and easily beat Emery. Calgary’s fist strike came off a big shot from Ollie Jokinen. It would have been a difficult save but did go through Emery. Jokinen was in prime scoring position and made the most of the opportunity.

A tired team usually commits more errors, both physical and mental. The Hawks took two high sticking penalties which normally fall into the careless category. There was a hooking penalty which often happens because a player stops moving his feet and reaches with his stick. That can be an indication of fatigue.

Steve Montador, who skated with Nick Leddy Friday night, was guilty of a delay of game penalty. That can fall into the category of another mental miscue and came at a time when the Hawks were down two goals. Sean O’Donnell made a rare start and was partnered with Niklas Hjalmarsson.

Normally, Leddy plays the right side but Friday night was on the left side with new partner Montador. Joel Quenneville is trying different options to get his club back on track. The ice time for Leddy was cut down also as he played slightly less than 14 minutes.

This change for Leddy could indicate what the next move for General Manager Stan Bowman will be.

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