After falling just short against one of the league’s best teams on the road Saturday, the Blackhawks had an uncharacteristically rough game Sunday afternoon, falling to the Colorado Avalanche at home 5-1.
“You could use some really bad adjectives to describe our play today,” said Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville. “It hasn’t been consistent with the way we’ve played recently. This was a curveball and we’re not pleased; we have to get back to basics.”
“At this time of year it’s pretty disappointing to have an effort like that,” said Duncan Keith
. “We just didn’t come to give our best effort; we didn’t try hard.”
Though it took more than 13 minutes for Colorado’s Ben Guite to break the scoreless tie, the Hawks played from behind from the opening draw, as they drew two penalties within the first five minutes of play.
“We had a good first shift of the game, but we took a couple of penalties that we didn’t have to take that gave them momentum,” Quenneville said. “Playing catch-up is never easy; they played a smart road game and deserved to win.”
“It seems like when we get down one or two, we just try to do too much,” said Colin Fraser. “We’ve got to stick with the system. It’s hard to come from behind all the time.”
Adding to their problems was the loss of winger Martin Havlat, who had been the Hawks' leading contributor through the last 10 games. Havlat left the game late in the second period with what is being described as a “lower body injury,” and Quenneville said he will be reevaluated at practice on Tuesday.
“Obviously, it’s tough to lose Marty,” Fraser said. “He’s been one of our best players all year and the best player lately. But we weren’t very good from the start, when Marty was there. It’s not just one guy – it’s all 20 guys who are here. Hopefully he’s alright and we can get him back Tuesday.”
The Hawks’ next few games may prove the to be difference between keeping their fourth seed in the Western Conference standings and dropping into the pack of teams below them; the Hawks had held a double-digit point lead over the fifth-place team for much of the season, but it’s shrunk down just five points. The Hawks have a record of 2-4-1 in their last seven games, while fifth-place Vancouver has garnered a record of 4-1-0 in that time.
“Every team goes through adversity at some point in the year, but you have to battle through it,” Fraser said. “Every team in the West is fighting for the playoffs, and there aren’t going to be any easy games. We’ve got to find our mistakes, correct them and move on.”