There was no mincing words with Nick Foligno postgame. Yes the Chicago Blackhawks did some good things. For sure, they were close and had the best effort of their last four games in what is now a losing streak in as many games.
But it doesn’t matter to Foligno. No, this is about habits more than it is about effort. It boils down to the Blackhawks being better than the standings reveal them to be.
“We’re a way better team than we’re showing and that’s the disappointing part of it too,” Foligno said. “I’m not trying to sound negative–I just see more, I see it in practice, I see the plays we make, I see the care in this room, but it’s got to translate out there.
It can’t just be just because we want it that way or our intent is that, it’s not good enough. You’ve got to execute, right? ‘I meant to get that out,’ well then get it out, right? Those are the things that we have to get through and once we do, once we get those good habits, this team could do a lot of damage.”
For all the good the Blackhawks did during Sunday night’s 3-2 loss to Buffalo, it was just little things here and there that sent them to their fourth consecutive loss.
Let the record show that the Blackhawks didn’t play the slow start or frantic rush in the end game. No, this one was measured and while frantic at the end, was sustained pressure building that just never found a way out.
No matter how you slice it, in Foligno’s words, it’s a tough spot to be in, especially when the advantage part isn’t enabled on the home ice.
“We talked about that at the beginning of the year,” Foligno said. “We want to make this a hard place to play and that hasn’t been the case and that has to change. We’re digging a hole here and we’ve got to find a way out of it because this is awful. This sucks.”
How do the Blackhawks Change It?
Just as winning can be contagious, losing games is soul sucking. Frustration builds, especially when there are games where the Blackhawks do enough to win–and the result goes the other way.
Taylor Raddysh, who had a goal in the loss, kept circling back to the frustration no matter how the loss played out–be it a hard fought heartbreaker or one that doesn’t look good in any regard.
“It’s frustrating,” Raddysh said. “There are times where we can dominate, and there’s games like that where I think we should walk out with a wind and end up losing and not getting a point out of it. It’s frustrating. We got to find out a way to pull the full 60 minutes together and come out with points and wins at the end of it.”
Blackhawks bench boss Luke Richardson sees it again as just not getting the full effort of 60 minutes of hockey.
“We’ve had spells within a period where there’s a shift that we don’t do the right things and we turn the puck over and it gets us in a spiral downward,” Richardson said. “I think that happens to every team, the momentum changes on certain whiffs, whether it be a good play or a bad play. I think just as a team, we just haven’t matured to that point where we can have a solid 60 minutes where one kind of thing hiccups on our team and we don’t multiply it.”
The Blackhawks were THIS close to tying it at the buzzer pic.twitter.com/v8Q8jmuxyJ
— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) November 20, 2023
Those hiccups, tiny as they may be, add up and now with a losing streak at four, it becomes a threat to multiply as well. Look no further than last season. In this same stretch of time last season (mid November), the Blackhawks dropped eight straight with their fourth loss coming on November 20th.
The interesting part? In those losses, the Blackhawks scored three or more goals three times. Chicago has been stuck with a pair of goals in each of its last three games. Goal scoring has been hard to come by for the Blackhawks and something has to change. Fast.
Building that consistency, something, anything, to turn the L’s into W’s.
“I think that’s where we’ve got to get the mindset of how hard you have to work,” Foligno said. “And sometimes how–I don’t even know what the word is really–the compete that you have to have, the sacrifices you have to make sometimes, ‘ah, I want to go, ah I should change and put my linemate out in a better position,’ right? ‘I gotta get this puck out. I have to. Whatever it takes. Claw, scratch, get it out. Get it in.’ Same thing.
And once you start having those kind of habits and those kind of mindsets, it’s amazing how the game just starts to come to you.”
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