The Blackhawks have won just four times in their last 16 games. General manager Stan Bowman added but one player at the trade deadline, defenseman Johnny Oduya.
Top center Jonathan Toews is still injured, apparently with a concussion. He hasn't resumed skating and may not for some time.
So it’s up to coach Joel Quenneville to guide Chicago back on a winning track for the final quarter of the season.
Oduya’s arrival should help somewhat. His assignment is to alleviate the pressure on younger puck-moving defensemen Nick Leddy and Dylan Olsen.
“We think that his style really fits in what we do here in terms of his ability to skate,” Bowman told the Chicago media. “He’s one of the better skating defenseman in the NHL. He’s got a lot of experience.”
Blackhawks rookies Jimmy Hayes, Andrew Shaw and Brandon Bollig will have to make an impact too.
“We need everybody here,” Quenneville said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “We have a tough road ahead of us here, a lot of challenges. We have a lot of rookies or young players right now and we’re going to be asking a lot from them, but they’ve proven through this year they can help us a lot of ways.”
For the record, the Blackhawks have expressed much confidence to Windy City reporters. Here is a sampling of their thoughts:
Patrick Kane: "With our group in here we can feel confident with where we are, especially once we get over the injury bug a little bit. You put a full lineup in with our team and we're going to be tough to beat. Obviously that's not where we're at right now so some guys are going to have to step up and try to take over a little bit. It's a good team in here, a good bunch of guys. We feel we have a chance to do some special things. It's going to be fun going forward.”
Brent Seabrook: “It’s always good to add a guy that can help you out in that way. [Oduya] can play some big minutes, some tough minutes. It’s going to be good for us.”
Patrick Sharp: “This is our team and you can feel good about that. We can move forward together, there is no doubt and no question in our minds. It's just a matter of performing on the ice. We have 18 games left. Looking at the schedule, it's going to be a battle to get in (the playoffs), and we're ready for the challenge.”
Jamal Mayers: “We just need to play smart and hard,” Mayers said. “We know we have the people in this room to do it.”