For a few games, the Chicago Blackhawks seemed to be getting back on track. They picked up a win against the Detroit Red Wings after the All-Star break, beating them five to one. After a few extra days off after that game, they took on the Nashville Predators for a Central Division battle. The game should have been a testing point for whether or not the game against the Red Wings had been a true win or just a lucky fluke. The Blackhawks came out on top, taking a one goal lead over the Preds that they carried through the scoreless third period. As the Hawks turned their eyes to their Canadian road-trip, the team energy was up and things were really starting to click.

It all took a turn for the worse however and Chicago started crumbling again at the end of this week. They opened their game against the Vancouver Canucks with a goal in the first period. The goal by Schmaltz, off a Brandon Saad assist, had the Hawks looking like a speedy team. It should have set the pace for the game, had the Hawks not stepped down in the second period. During the second period, Vancouver really grabbed hold of the game and never truly let go. They scored two goals during those twenty minutes and another pair in the final twenty minutes of the game. The Hawks tried to make a comeback, with one goal in the third period, but it was too little and too late.

The same story happened in Calgary on Saturday night, as the Blackhawks took on the Calgary Flames. The Hawks again opened the game scoring with another goal from Schmaltz. They tallied two additional goals in the second period, though they allowed the Flames to tally two goals of their own. The Flames hardly allowed the Hawks to tally any shots on net during the third period and then scored a goal of their own to tie things up. The game headed to overtime and Sean Monahan ended up sealing the Hawks’ doomed fate that night. His shot went through both Alex Debrincat and Jeff Glass and really showed exactly the type of situation that the Hawks had set themselves up for.

The Blackhawks have struggled through all of this season, and while part of it is due to the changing roster, there are also issues of inconsistency and lack of energy. If bits and pieces of game film were taken, chopped, and put back together, a solid 60 minutes of ice time could be seen. However, the Hawks have been unable to find that full sixty minutes for many games this year. In both of the games this week, they put up strong first periods, yet fell off the gas during the second and third periods. Their push should be strongest in the third period, especially when they have leads as they did against Calgary. Instead, they rely on their goalie to pull them through or wait for lucky bounces, which have not been the case.

With the power play struggling, scoring opportunities getting slimmer, and playoff hopes dying, the Blackhawks really just need to concentrate on finding a full game from within themselves. As it has been repeated time and again this season, they have the players they need to create great games, but they have not been showing up. Big name players like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Brandon Saad all have to become regular marks on the tally sheet in order for wins to become more frequent. The younger players have stepped up this year, but it is not enough to rely on them to pull in wins. The goalies also need to see more help throughout the entire game, not just for one period. Goaltending has not been the problem this year, and if anything, has been the glue holding the crumbling Blackhawks from completely disintegrating. Anton Forsberg and Glass have both become more confident with the amount of playing time they have received, but asking for a phenomenal 60 minutes every night is a lot to put on their plates.

Picking up a point against Calgary technically did give the Blackhawks a tiny step up, but they were the ones at fault for dropping the game. Had they been awake and alert during the third period, it is likely that overtime would have not happened and they would have captured the full two points available for grabs. Teams have become more than aware of the Blackhawks playing style, especially this year, and are quickly using it to their advantage. Unless the Hawks want to make these losses an even more frequent occurrence, they need to start showing up for the second and third periods of games. They’ve already figured out their first period strategy and it has worked, but unless that energy and willpower continues, it is not going to help them get anywhere and is certainly not going to bring in any wins.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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