Chicago (22-19-6, 50 points), is 11 points out of third place in the Central and seven points out of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
When they arrive Thursday to play the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena (7:30 p.m. face-off), the Hawks could be mired in a four-game losing skid, depending on the outcome of Wednesday’s game against the Maple Leafs in Toronto.
“The hole is getting deeper,” was how Hawks coach Joel Quenneville began his post-game press conference after Monday’s 2-0 home loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
It was the second time in the last three games Chicago has been shut out.
On January 14, the Wings shut out the Hawks 4-0 in the Windy City with goalie Petr Mrazek making 27 saves.
Since they defeated the Senators 8-2 on January 9 in Ottawa, the Hawks are 1-4-0, they’ve scored a total of six goals in their last five games and are 0-for-16 on the power play.
Against the Senators, Chicago was 4-for-6 with the man advantage and you can sense an air of frustration mounting when the power play is addressed.
“We can sit here and debate and argue the whole power play and what’s the problem with it, but at the end of the day it’s hasn’t been good enough,” defenseman Duncan Keith said after the Lightning loss. “We’ve got to find a way. We’ve got keep working at it and be better, myself included, myself especially.
“I get time on there and when I get that time I have to be better.”
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was left speechless when asked about the punchless power play.
“I don’t know. There’s not much to say about that right now,” was all a visibly perturbed Toews could utter about Chicago’s troubles with the man-advantage. The Hawks were 0-for-6 on the power play against the Lightning.
Toews is having another solid season. He’s third in scoring with 14 goals and 17 assists in 47 games. He is plus-9 and his 19:44 of ice time per game ranks second among Chicago’s forward corps.
He continues to excel in the face-off circle, winning 57.53 percent of his draws.
As consistent as Toews has been, it’s right wing Patrick Kane who leads the Blackhawks offensively.
In 2003-04 as a 15-year-old, Kane amassed 160 points (83 goals, 77 assists) in 70 games for Detroit Honeybaked and he’s only gotten better.
A winner of multiple NHL trophies (Calder, Conn Smythe, Art Ross, Hart Memorial, and the Ted Lindsay Award), Kane recorded his 800th career point (305 goals, 495 assists) in 786 games on Jan. 20 in a 7-3 home loss to the New York Islanders.
Kane leads the Blackhawks in goals (20) and points (48) in 47 games. He leads all forwards in ice time, 20:20 a game.
Center Nick Schmaltz is second in scoring on the Hawks with 12 goals and 21 assists, is plus-6 and averages 18:37 of ice time.
Rookie forward and Farmington Hills native Alex DeBrincat is having a strong season with 14 goals, 14 assists and is plus-3. His 28 points is fourth on the Blackhawks. He ranks ninth overall in rookie scoring in the NHL.
Brandon Saad and Artem Anisimov have also contributed on the offensive end. Saad, reacquired form Columbus in an offseason trade, has 13 goals, 10 assists and is plus-7. Anisimov has 13 goals among his 18 points and is minus-1.
To try and bolster their offense, the Hawks acquired left wing Anthony Duclair on January 10 from Arizona. In four games for Chicago, the 22-year-old Duclair has one assist and is plus-1.
Former Red Wing Tomas Jurco was called up from Rockford on January 8 and played in Monday’s loss to Tampa Bay. Jurco saw fourth-line duty and was pointless in 10:02 of total ice time.
Keith, the former Michigan State Spartan, is the backbone of Chicago’s blueline. He leads the Hawks defensemen in scoring with 22 points (22 assists, minus-7) and he also leads them in ice time at 24:47 a game.
Jan Rutta (five goals, 12 assists, minus-8) and veteran Brent Seabrook (two goals, 11 assists, plus-10) have helped solidify the back end.
Dearborn Heights native Jordan Oesterle has been a pleasant surprise for the Hawks. Signed as a free agent by Chicago on July 1, 2017, the 25-year-old defenseman is second on the team in ice time, averaging 21:08 per contest.
He’s played in 22 games and has registered three goals, seven assists and is plus-3.
When goalie Corey Crawford is in net, he gives the Blackhawks a chance to win. In 28 games, Crawford is 16-9-2 with a goals-against average of 2.27, a .929 save percentage and two shutouts.
Crawford suffered an upper-body injury and has been on injured reserve since December 27. He made his last appearance in goal on December 23, where he was pulled in the first period against the Devils after allowing three goals on seven shots.
Speculation has run rampant about what is wrong with Crawford and how much time he could miss. Reports of him missing the remainder of the season because of vertigo-like symptoms to concussion issues have made the rounds in the rumor mill.
There is some encouraging news about Crawford. He worked out on Sunday and Monday of this week and though there isn’t a timetable for his return, Quenneville told reporters after Monday’s game that seeing Crawford back was “a positive.”
Chicago is 5-6-1 since Crawford has been sidelined.
Jeff Glass and rookie Anton Forsberg have been sharing the net since Crawford was placed on IR.
This season Forsberg is 3-7-3 with a 3.15 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage while Glass is 3-3-1 with a 3.17 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.
Which goalie will start in Toronto on Wednesday and against the Red Wings on Thursday has not been determined.
The Blackhawks are 2-6-1 in the second game of a back-to-back. But like the Wings, they know they need to stay composed even though time is running out.
“Right now we can’t look at the big picture, we just got to go out and win,” Toews said. “We have to win one game. If we can have that playoff-like mentality every shift, every period, just go from here and just focus on the small and the short-term tasks, that’s all we’re going to worry about.
“We got to grow. We got to grow every time we go out onto the ice. It’s not easy to think about the situation we’re in, but there’s a lot of hockey left.”
Quenneville was succinct about what the Blackhawks must do.
“We’re in a winning business,” he said. “Don’t feel sorry for yourself. We need more, we need to be better.”