Blackhawks seek consistency as regular season winds down


Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford deflects a shot during team practice at the United Center on March 26th.

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CHICAGO – Two games in three nights can sometimes earn a middle day off.

Except when you lose to a team that might not even make the playoffs by three goals in the first game of that stretch.

So around 14 after leaving the ice at the Wells Fargo Center after a three-goal loss to the Flyers on Wednesday night the Blackhawks were back on it at the United Center for a 40 minute workout in advance of Friday’s match-up with Columbus.

Perhaps it’s a message, though Joel Quenneville didn’t say the specifically. But the coach did vocalize the simple fact that remains for the team as their regular season enters the final stretch.

“We’re in the playoffs right now. We don’t have anything solidified yet,” said Quenneville of his Blackhawks, who still don’t have a spot in the postseason yet. “There’s a lot of things to be sorted out.”

At the moment they are five points behind the Blues for first in the Central Division and four behind the Predators for second. While the best record in the league is within the Blackhawks reach (Anaheim also has 99 points with the Blues) a chance of falling out of the playoffs completely exists with the two Wild Cards only three and six points behind.

Data pix.

"We'll it is, you want home ice," said left wing Kris Versteeg when asked if the seeding in the playoffs matters. "But in the end you just want to get in and give yourself a chance to win the cup."

Doing so the next few weeks will depend on if the team can be a little more consistent-which has been a minor problem the past week. After four-straight wins the Blackhawks were blanked on the road by Dallas 4-0, then found their offense in a 3-1 win at Carolina before a rough 4-1 loss to the Flyers on Wednesday.

Ups and downs have been apart of this season and were expected when leading scorer Patrick Kane went down with a broken collarbone in late February. But the team would like to find a way to fix it to make qualifying for the playoffs a little easier.

"Little things," said Andrew Shaw when asked about improving the team's consistency. "Driving gaps, getting pucks in the net with traffic."

Those are thinks Quenneville likes to hear after a loss like the one in Philadelphia as the team looks inward instead of out at a competitive playoff race.

"You look at the short-term and playing the right way is something we try to stress and winning that next game," said Quenneville. "You take care of business and then you are thinking about the top of the division."

That way the Blackhawks can be on the United Center ice a little more often.


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