Toews and Saad address Blackhawks’ lull in scoring

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CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 10: Brandon Saad #20 and Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks speak to the media after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game Four of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the United Center on June 10, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

by Scott King

It may be more than just a scoring drought for the Blackhawks, who’ve dropped their last five of six games.

Perhaps it’s an energy drought or an effort drought that’s given the Hawks just 11 goals in their last six games after scoring 21 in their first four. After starting the season 4-1-1, Chicago’s record has dipped to 5-5-2.

“I think some games it’s been about speed and work ethic, being hard to play against,” said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews of the team’s scoring trouble. “Now I think there’s been some games where we’ve played better, we’ve had better spurts. When we don’t play so well, we’re a little bit too easy giving up scoring chances.

“When you’re playing from behind all the time you start to kind of force the offense and then it just gets harder and harder, especially when you’re getting your chances. They don’t go in as often when you’re trying too hard. A lot of it is just simplifying our game and getting back to outworking teams and eventually you’re going to get those ugly goals and those bounces around the net. That’s what builds your confidence in the long run.”

The captain acknowledged that the wheels have indeed begun to come off a bit for the team’s offense.

“Well, I think it’s snowballed the last week and a bit, two weeks,” Toews said. “We’ll just leave it at that. It’s already for us a few little things that have just gotten worse. We’ll find a way to get over the hump. At this point we’ve just got to be loose and enjoy ourselves, have fun and just go out there [to] work and let things happen. I think we’re at that point already where we feel like it’s kind of snowballing in the wrong direction for us.”

In the past, the Hawks have been able to be contenders with a bad power play and a good penalty kill, but the disastrous power play is an even bigger cause for concern this season and definitely a reason for the offensive lull. In their last five games, Chicago is one-for-21 on the power play.

“I don’t know, maybe there’s too many creative minds out there,” Brandon Saad said of the baffling incompetence when the team has the man advantage.

“[We] just try to do too much. It’s in our five-on-five game too. When we keep it simple, get pucks to the net, we retrieve pucks and we can create plays off that. For some reason, we’ve had a couple chances, had a couple looks. You hit a couple posts but we want those to go in for us.”

For Saad and the Blackhawks, the solution for the scoring struggle can be a simple one.

“I think, like I said, playing simpler,” Saad said. “We’re trying to create too much sometimes. We’re having turnovers and we’re going the other way. A lot of one and done plays where when we have success, we have that zone time, we have cycles behind the net, we’re getting more shots and that’s when we have success, playing in their end.”

Saad was working with Patrick Kane and Nick Schmaltz at Monday’s practice and is likely joining the two on the second line for Wednesday’s game. The forward has had success playing with Kane in the past.

“Always be ready for the puck,” Saad said of Kane’s game. “That guy creates magic out there, and regardless of what kind of situation you’re in, he’ll bring guys to him and find you open. So be ready for the puck and hunt down pucks and retrieve them for him.”

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