Sunday night was Jonathan Toews’ 1,000th game celebration at the United Center. The Blackhawks followed the ceremony on their home ice with a loss to the league’s worst team, the Arizona Coyotes. Last night, the Blackhawks honored Marian Hossa with a one-day contract and a retirement ceremony in the atrium, followed by the announcement that Hossa’s No. 81 will hit the rafters next season. The Blackhawks followed that up with a lifeless 2-0 loss to the next worst team in the league, the Seattle Kraken.
That’s not going to work. That’s not going to work for the fans who booed the Blackhawks as they failed to get a shot off on a 5-on-3 power play late in the second period. That’s not going to work for Derek King either.
Derek King: I mean, we should’ve had a couple of goals, obviously, but we didn’t. no urgency. I mean, too many passengers. Simple. That’s it, in a nutshell. Lanks played a great game, he had no support and I’m going to have to address that. #Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/3sgwyud50y
— Patrick K. Flowers (@PatrickKFlowers) April 8, 2022
“They just kind of like stood there and were stickhandling and looking at each other. They didn’t create anything. They just kind of stood there instead of getting a little movement going,” King said after the loss to Seattle. “I know we’re not a playoff team, but guys are fighting for jobs maybe for next year. We’re getting looked at from above, and some of these guys don’t have any urgency. They’ve got to get urgency in their game and show what they can do if they want to stay in this League.”
After a stinker on Sunday night against the Coyotes, King went with his top line of Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome, and Patrick Kane at puck drop. Admittedly, the first shift for that line looked pretty good as they put a little heat on Philipp Grubauer on their first possession in the offensive zone, but then they went flat, and Seattle turned the tables on the Blackhawks. After playing last night in St. Louis, a bad and tired Kraken squad came out and peppered Kevin Lankinen for the entire first period, outshooting the Blackhawks 17-3 in the opening frame.
Lankinen kept the Blackhawks in the game, but the rest of the team had no answers for the Kraken. The Blackhawks are now on a six-game losing streak, and Alex DeBrincat called that unacceptable last night.
“It’s unacceptable. Even though we’re out of the playoffs, we want to win games,” DeBrincat said. ” It sucks losing. It’s no fun. We’re battling hard for two of three periods, but it’s not enough, obviously. We’ve got to find a way to score some goals and play a full 60. That’s been our downfall most of the year, and that’s why we’re in the position we are. These last 11 games, we’ve got to come out hard and really work on playing a full 60, get ready for next year.”
DeBrincat was asked if it’s hard for a team that’s out of contention to get ramped up for games in the final leg of the season:
“We can make all the excuses we want, but it’s our job to play hockey, and we’ve got to find a way to get amped up. We’re still playing in the best league in the world, so we should be excited to play every night and want to win games. It’s a problem if we’re not getting amped up and not ready for the game.”
DeBrincat is right. There shouldn’t be any excuses for not coming to the rink ready to play a full 60 minutes of competitive hockey. The Arizona Coyotes, who hold the league’s worst record, had no problem getting ramped up to play the Blackhawks on Sunday. The Kraken, on the heels of a back-to-back and with nothing to play for in the standings, had no problem getting ramped up to play the Blackhawks on Thursday.
Derek King was at his wits’ end on Thursday night after the game as he described his team as one lacking any level of competitiveness or urgency. The Blackhawks did a bunch of standing around and watching on Thursday night, and King was not happy about it. King joked after the game that he might need to talk to his mental skills coach after Thursday night’s lifeless showing.
“No, it’s just trying to get them just work them in practice, keep them competing in practice. Whether it’s small battle drills or just keeping in their ear about competing and finishing this right, we owe it to the fans, we owe it to the organization. I mean, we all get paid pretty good money to be a part of this team, so you don’t just fold the tent.”
That’ll be the message for the Blackhawks on Saturday at practice, and hopefully, it’ll result in a much more spirited performance on Sunday night against Dallas.