The Blackhawks season is unraveling before frustrated fans' eyes.
Once the top team in the NHL, the Blackhawks are mired in a six-game losing streak (0-5-1)—five of them on the road—with five more games starting them in the face before they return to the home ice of the United Center.
"It's easy right now to be negative and point fingers," Patrick Sharp said. "But now's the time we need to stay together more than ever and be a team and come out of this."
Almost three weeks ago—Jan. 21.—the Blackhawks were first in the Western Conference with 64 points and a record of 29-13-6. After Tuesday's 5-2 loss in Colorado, the Hawks are sixth in the West with 65 points and are 29-18-7. The Hawks entered Wednesday night seven points behind conference-leading Detroit and seven points from 9th—and out—in the playoff standings.
To make matters worse, the Blackhawks practiced at University of Denver's Magness Arena on Wednesday missing four players out with flu-like symptoms and Steve Montador with an upper body injury.
"We try to be positive through a tough stretch like we're in right now and find ways to say that this is something we can build on," coach Joel Quenneville said after practice. "We still have a lot of work to do. That's what we have to reinforce, maybe looking at taking baby steps in certain areas, whether it's the depth of our forecheck, our play in our own end--all have to be more detail-oriented."
The road ahead doesn't exactly offer much to look forward to. The Hawks are in San Jose to face the Pacific Division-leading Sharks on Friday, the third-in-the-Central Nashville Predators on Tuesday and the Atlantic Division-leading N.Y. Rangers next Thursday. They'll also play at Phoenix and Columbus.
So what's the bright side? The longest road trip left this season is three games in early March.
>> Jan 21: Nashville 5, Blackhawks 2
>> Jan 24: Nashville 3, Blackhawks 1
>> Jan 31: Vancouver 3, Blackhawks 2 (OT)
>> Feb 2: Edmonton 8, Blackhawks 4
>> Friday: Calgary 3, Blackhawks 1
>> Tuesday: Colorado 5, Blackhawks 2