GLENDALE, Ariz – The new year hasn’t brought any new luck to the Blackhawks over the first four games and it hit a bit of rock bottom in Arizona on Thursday night.
Against the lowly Coyotes, who only have six wins on the season, the visitors had a very uneven performance in which they fell behind by two goals, rallied, then fell behind by three and tried to rally again.
Unfortunately, that didn’t work, as Arizona’s late lead stood in a 6-4 victory that extends the Blackhawks’ winless streak to six games. In that stretch the team has only been able to force overtime once, getting a point in an extra-time loss to the Avalanche on Tuesday.
That prompted an impromptu players-only meeting in their Gila River Arena locker room. Interim head coach Derek King said that he wasn’t able to get in there after the game.
“It’s good, they need to,” said King of the players having their own meeting. “It can’t be myself or the rest of the staff coming in there and telling them what they’re doing wrong or what they need to do. They need to figure this out, and I like the fact that that they had a closed-door meeting.”
Captain Jonathan Toews didn’t get into specifics of the meeting, put did tell reporters that the team’s up-and-down play over the course of a game has to stop. Because of their inconsistency, the team remains far out of the push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and will likely have interim general manager Kyle Davidson looking at trading some key contributors over the next month for younger prospects.
For Toews, it’s all about the team fixing their mindset as they look ahead to a game against the Golden Knights in Vegas on Friday.
“The gist of it is that there’s clearly times the last few games where we’re playing really good hockey and then we decided to take a few shifts off, give up momentum, and take some tough penalties that we’re not killing off, and one thing leads to another and we’ve got to work really hard to built that momentum back up again,” said Toews. “We’ve got to find ways to commit to each other and not have those lapses in energy and focus. We don’t want this skid to snowball into something bigger than it is.
“So I think mentally just trying to flush a couple of those down the tube and just move onto the next game and know that if we can keep playing as a team a little more consistent with our effort, things are going to start clicking.”
The sooner the better for the Blackhawks before a season slips away.