For Blackhawks, slow and steady won’t win Wild Card race

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Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville, top, and his players react as they watch their team during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, in Chicago. The Red Wings won 4-0. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

by Scott King

Despite calling up speedy winger Vinnie Hinostroza a bit ago, who’s helped the top line generate a lot more chances lately, and trading for another quick young forward in Anthony Duclair on Wednesday, the Blackhawks looked slow and failed to generate many quality scoring chances in a must-win game on Sunday before heading to their bye week.

Both the Blackhawks and their newest addition, 22-year-old Duclair, were looking to build off of Friday’s 2-1 victory over the Central division-leading Winnipeg Jets.

Duclair snagged an assist in his first game as a Hawk and 32-year-old journeyman goaltender Jeff Glass stopped 31 of 32 Jets’ shots for the win. Forward David Kampf scored his first NHL goal and grabbed an assist in the contest, which also fell on his 23rd birthday, and defenseman Connor Murphy lit the lamp as well.

The Blackhawks climbed back into the second Wild Card spot after Friday’s game, but again slid out of the playoff picture after the Wild beat the Jets on Saturday.

In order to possess the second Wild Card spot once again in an already very heated race in the Western Conference, the Hawks would need to add two more points before their bye week begins after Sunday’s game vs. the visiting Detroit Red Wings, who lost in Pittsburgh 4-1 on Saturday.

Dylan Larkin opened the scoring and got the Wings on the board first at 4:08 into the first period. Two minutes and ten seconds later, Mike Green made it 2-0 Wings.

Duclair was bumped up to the first line from the third to start the second period, swapping with fellow speedster Vinnie Hinostroza. The change did little to generate quality looks for the Hawks.

Detroit extended their lead at 5:46 in the third period on a goal from Anthony Mantha. Tyler Bertuzzi made it 4-0 later in the third.

“It was tough to watch,” Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said. “We used the word ‘brutal’, I thought that was complimentary… ‘Out to lunch’, use them all. That wasn’t good enough, nowhere near good enough.”

Chicago heads into the bye week once again on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. If they want to make it to the postseason for a tenth consecutive year, they need to find some consistency.

“Across the board we weren’t good enough,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “We’ve got a lot to think about over our break here.

“There’s moments throughout the season, I wouldn’t say they’re deciding moments, but they’re key moments where we need to keep playing hard and keep playing the way we’ve been playing especially when we’re stringing wins together.

“Some moments we haven’t backed it up the way we know we have to, so a game like today [where] we know we have to have an effort, we need to go out there and play like veterans, play like pros. We’re going to do that.”

According to their coach, a way for the Hawks to find that consistency is by raising their compete level after the break.

“The most important ingredient in our game is competing,” Quenneville said. “If you don’t compete you have no chance, and today we had no chance.”

Killing in the name of

The Blackhawks have been displaying a resurgence on their penalty kill. The team was four-for-four on Sunday and were a perfect three-for-three on Friday.

Overall, they’ve killed 22 of their last 23 penalties dating back to January 3 and 19-straight in that span.

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