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THREE THINGS: Central, Roster Shuffle and Familiar Face

Three takeaways from Chicago's 4-0 loss to St. Louis on Monday night

by Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc / Blackhawks.com

The Blackhawks' energy level was low during the game, which only made their frustration level high after it.

Against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blues on Monday night at the United Center, the Blackhawks came out flat and stayed that way and the result was a 4-0 defeat, their third in a row.

"We played three terrible games," defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "It's definitely frustrating when you're out there. We have to work through it, we have to be better."

Mackenzie MacEachern, Brayden Schenn, Jaden Schwartz and Tyler Bozak scored for the Blues to provide more than enough offense for goaltender Jake Allen, who made 38 saves to record his first shutout of the season and 20th of his career.

"I just think we've got to find a way to get some energy," said winger Patrick Kane, who had his 15-game points streak snapped. "Obviously, (Monday night) we didn't really have much and getting down a couple goals doesn't really help either."

The Blues scored twice in the opening period and tacked on two more in the third and went on to hand the Blackhawks their third shutout of the season.

"Very disappointed with the result," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We didn't play with the energy we needed to be good and I thought (our) execution wasn't there, either. Obviously, they get the lead there early (and) that plays right into their hands. They're a very good defensive team and they played a smart road game. They didn't expend a ton of energy. They were just smart and made us work for our chances. I wish we'd have made them work for theirs a little harder."

Said captain Jonathan Toews on the lack of energy from the Blackhawks: "You're not going to be flying, you're not going to be on you're A-game every single night. It's a long year, you play a lot of games, you travel a lot, every team goes through it. We're not sitting here making excuses. You have to find ways to play through that."

Video: CHI Recap: Blackhawks shut out by Allen, Blues

Here are three takeways from the Blackhawks' loss:


CENTRAL ISSUE

The Blackhawks closed out a run of five consecutive games against Central Division opponents and came out of the stretch 1-3-1, including the three losses in a row - two to the Avalanche and Monday's defeat to the Blues.

"Those games are always important - four-pointers with team you're going against," Colliton said of facing Central foes. "I think the common thread is they've been excellent teams and they've played really well against us. You'd like to see us respond better to that challenge."

At 10-12-5 on the season, the Blackhawks find themselves in last place in the Central, 17 points back of the division-leading Blues. The next five games for the Blackhawks will be against non-division opponents, including against the Bruins and Devils on the road, Thursday and Friday, respectively.

"You can look at the last three games and say they're huge games against divisional opponents and we didn't have our best game which was disappointing," Kane said. "Obviously, we have a big road trip coming up here. We've got to find points any way you can at this time of year, especially with the situation we're in."

Video: Colliton on loss to the Blues


ROSTER SHUFFLE

The Blackhawks were left in the unusual situation of playing a man short after goaltender Robin Lehner (flu-like symptoms) and Andrew Shaw (undisclosed) were ruled out Monday morning.

With Drake Caggiula and Dylan Strome sidelined with concussions, Duncan Keith out with a groin injury and no room under the NHL's salary cap to recall a player after backup goalie Kevin Lankinen came up from AHL Rockford, the Blackhawks faced their division rivals with 11 forwards and six defensemen.

"Teams play 11 forwards across the league," Colliton said. "We didn't have the extra 'D,' but I don't think that affected things. We just weren't good."

Kane picked up the slack minutes-wise, logging a game-high 24:30 of ice time.

"It is what it is - you can't really do anything about it," Kane said of playing shorthanded. "There are times in this game when you're going to face some adversity and face some situations that you're not accustomed to. This one was obviously a little different. I don't know if we've ever done that before where you only have 17 guys, but, yeah, different situation. It would have been nice to play well."

It remains to be seen how long the Blackhawks will be in a roster crunch but on the encouraging side, both Strome and Caggiula (long-term injured reserve) have been skating and appear to be close to returning.

"I was dealing with a bit of headaches and you try to battle through as much as you can but at some point it's probably best to say something," Strome said of sitting out. "It's not easy, you obviously want to battle for your teammates and get out there but a head's a pretty serious thing so you got to take it seriously.

"I was just waking up … a few days in a row where I wasn't feeling great," Strome added. "The headaches weren't going away. You try to battle through it but I felt like it was best to rest for a few days and heal up and wait until the symptoms kind of go away."

Strome said making the decision to inform the team of his symptoms "was the hardest thing for me. I want to be out there; I don't want to be in the crowd. I think it's the first game I've missed with an injury in seven years. You want to play through, you want to battle through but at the same time injuries happen and it's part of hockey. Now, I'm happy, I feel like I made the right decision and took the time and hopefully can continue to get better and when I feel exactly 100 percent I'll get back in."

Colliton did not have an update on Keith, who missed his second consecutive game with the injury.

Video: Toews on loss to STL


FAMILIAR FACE

Troy Brouwer, who helped the Blackhawks win the 2010 Stanley Cup, was back on United Center ice after signing with the Blues on Nov. 20. Brouwer, who had three hits and two blocks Monday night, was left without a job after failing to make the Panthers out of training camp - despite being told he was good enough to play in the NHL - and was skating with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL when the Blues came calling.

"Getting the confidence out of the camp in Florida really helped," Brouwer said of making the decision to keep playing. "If I would have come out of that camp and they would have told me, 'Hey, you're not good enough anymore' then maybe I probably wouldn't have tried to pursue getting back in the NHL. But when they told me I was good enough to make the team and be there that actually pushed me little bit harder to know that I'm not done yet and I have good hockey left."

It is Brouwer's second stint with the Blues and after playing three-plus seasons with the Blackhawks the winger said he appreciates being a favorite of both fan bases.

"It means I must have done something right along the way," Brouwer said. "It's a little bit awkward at times because the two teams are pretty good rivals with each other and to be known and recognized on both sides makes it kind of fun. You can have laughs with both sides. Two great hockey cities and I'm really proud and excited that I could be a part of both sides."

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