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Chicago Blackhawks lose 6th straight against Columbus Blue Jackets


In the long run, the Chicago Blackhawks will continue to be winners as well as losers.

In the here and now, it’s hard to sugarcoat the Hawks’ ugly display during their sixth straight 5-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday at the United Center.

The rebuild is a process that will certainly be helped by better draft lottery odds as the league’s last-place team.

But Ryan Donato, who scored one of the Hawks’ two goals on Saturday and assisted Philipp on the other, has repeatedly stated that players are competitive by nature and “they don’t like to lose, regardless of the circumstances.” Kurashev.

“Losing is a tough pill to swallow but at the end of the day there is a bigger picture at play. I think the guys know this. But you still have to win.”

Kurashev: “When you play badly, you deserve to lose. This is very frustrating.”

Culture is also a process.

The Hawks can’t just let the young core learn. They need to learn the elements of winning and repeat that formula over and over again.

“I guess you’re telling them it’s not okay to lose, right?” Donato said. “That’s the biggest thing. And they are not comfortable with losing.

“These young people are hungry. They don’t like to lose. This is a good thing. … One of the bright spots of the future is how sick of losing these guys are. “I’m happy to be a part of it and hopefully we can grow it.”

Here are my six takeaways.

1. How to describe this loss? “Sloppy” to start with.

Coach Luke Richardson said the Hawks were not balanced.

“It was a sloppy play on our part from the very beginning,” he said. “We played really slow. We kept turning pucks away and they kept coming to us, so that’s a bad combination.”

“When it bounces on you and it bounces on you, you have to simplify, cut, support and advance the puck and just play it in the other team’s zone. “We couldn’t fix this fast enough.”

It was a bad sign from the start when Seth Jones took the puck out of his possession without any pressure – for Alexandre Texier, who took the gift and sent it past Arvid Söderblom 33 seconds into the game.

“The first game was really tough,” Richardson said. … The puck should have gone out twice before that happened, but we kept turning it away in the first period thinking we were going to get something better, and it ended up being something worse.”

Jones’s gift would not be the last.

During the second period power play, Nick Foligno turned and made a blind pass to Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski.

The incident resulted in a strange man running the other way and Jones tripping Sean Kuraly.

“We get the puck on the power play and when they’re really pulling back, we panic and throw it away,” Richardson said. … Maybe instead of taking a step and calming down and feeling, look at each other and talk. It’s not a smart game.

“You get frustrated even with the switch on the power play, so three guys switch, (Columbus) was smart, so they take off and get a 3-on-1 and Seth actually had to take a penalty on that. Something like that.

Things like Hawks rushing and Boris Katchouk passing behind Isaak Phillips and being picked up by Yegor Chinakhov.

“It’s four on four, their penalty is up, and in the second period instead of throwing the puck away we turn it to the blue line and now we’re on our heels and we’ve got tired guys out there killing us. Another power play in the second period,” Richardson said. “We got away with it, but it wasn’t a very smart play.”

Kurashev said this was generally bad practice.

“Our passes and stuff were never straight, bouncy balls,” he said. “We have to figure out how to play in these conditions. We didn’t do a good job tonight.”

2. Did you want a clear façade? Ryan Donato gives you a clear lead.

Chicago Blackhawks’ Ryan Donato celebrates after scoring against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, March 2, 2024 at the United Center. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

The Hawks gave a quick hook to Anthony Beauvillier, who plays on the top line alongside Connor Bedard and Kurashev.

Now they are giving another chance to Donato, who started the season in Bedard’s team.

“Donato is a goal-oriented guy and he shoots,” Richardson said before the game. “We thought he looked good at the end of the last game. We tried something and thought we could try it here tonight.”

It didn’t start well.

In the first period, Kevin Korchinski had a one-time opportunity on Donato from the net front, but he huffed.

Donato couldn’t remember this after the game.

“I wish I could,” he said. “He probably made a great pass to me and I kind of screwed it up.”

However, later in the half, Donato passed the ball behind the net to Bedard, who sent the ball to Kurashev, scoring the Hawks’ first goal.

In the third, Kurashev’s shot bounced off the back wall and Donato charged and cornered the ball.

It was Donato’s first goal since 22 December.

“I’m happy we were finally able to go on the offensive, but we also have to be responsible on our end,” he said.

Richardson gave Donato the equivalent of a B+.

“There were a few times where Donato, like everyone else, overhandled the puck, but his effort to get to the goal was great,” he said. “That’s what he did well and he was rewarded with the goal, which was nice to see.

“Hopefully that can bring him some confidence on the scoresheet. He missed a bit in the first period and whiffed one but I liked that he was in the right place to get the chance.”

3. This situation escalated rapidly.

Columbus Blue Jackets' Alexandre Texier (42) celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring a goal in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, March 2, 2024 in Chicago.  (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Columbus Blue Jackets’ Alexandre Texier celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring a goal in the first period against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, March 2, 2024, at the United Center. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Texier’s opening goal was the second fastest goal allowed against a Hawks opponent this season.

Here are the opponent’s three quick attacks:

  • 39 seconds: Oliver Ekman-Larsson lost 4-3 to Florida Panthers on November 12
  • 33 seconds: Alexandre Texier lost 5-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.
  • 15 seconds: Sidney Crosby lost 4-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on February 15

4. Arvid Söderblom struggled again.

Columbus Blue Jackets' Kirill Marchenko (86) moves the puck against Chicago Blackhawks' Louis Crevier (46) and goaltender Arvid Soderblom (40) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago on Saturday, March 2, 2024.  (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Columbus Blue Jackets’ Kirill Marchenko moves the puck against Chicago Blackhawks’ Louis Crevier and goaltender Arvid Söderblom during the second period at the United Center on Saturday, March 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

This wasn’t a disaster like the previous games that were or had to be pulled, just a situation that had become Söderblom’s norm.

On the positive side, the Hawks defense survived a slow start and just couldn’t hold on to the puck (unless you count the Jones flip).

The downside is that there’s no way to describe Mathieu Olivier’s backhand goal as anything other than soft.

“Yes, I think so in short terms,” Richardson said. “But he came fast and (Olivier) hit it as he was coming, changed his speed, changed his direction a little bit and found a hole.

“It seemed destined to happen, just like everything else that went against us tonight.”

5. Cultural change?

Chicago Blackhawks center Tyler Johnson (R) and center Jason Dickinson warm up for the team's NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday, February 21, 2024, in Chicago.  (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)
Tyler Johnson and Jason Dickinson of the Chicago Blackhawks warm up for a game on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, at the United Center. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

Tyler Johnson brings a unique perspective to the Hawks locker room.

He had the opportunity to watch the Tampa Bay Lightning become back-to-back winners. He watched the Hawks tear everything down and start from scratch over the last few seasons.

“I got lucky in Tampa, we basically built this for 10 years,” he said Saturday after his morning skate. “We traded a lot of players my first year and they wanted to change the culture, which took a long time.”

The Hawks have been a turnstile when it comes to leadership. Veteran guards like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are out. There are also newcomers like Nick Foligno and Jason Dickinson.

Johnson, another frontrunner, could be out of Chicago if he is traded this week or doesn’t re-sign with the Hawks.

“Culture is a funny thing, because when you have it, you have it,” he said. “It’s one of those things you have to build, but when new guys come in it changes.

“Men have different personalities and different ways of doing things. “My first year here three years ago is completely different than now because we went through so many different changes, we met so many different guys.”


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