Slumping Blackhawks visit banged-up Jets

NHL Hockey
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After losing 4-1 at home to the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night, the Chicago Blackhawks face a quick turnaround with a road game against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.

That might not be such a bad thing for the Blackhawks.

Chicago, which has lost five of its past six games (1-4-1), is 6-1-0 this season when playing the second half of a back-to-back. The lone win during the Blackhawks’ current drought, a 5-3 victory over Minnesota on Sunday, came less than 24 hours after a tough 4-3 loss at St. Louis.

The Blackhawks are tied for the lowest point total in the Western Conference.

Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith, a two-time Norris Trophy winner who returned to action Wednesday after missing nine games with a groin injury, was asked afterward by reporters what his team needs to do to break out of its slump. He didn’t hold back.

“We’ve got to get a little more emotion,” Keith said. “It’s not going to just turn around, it’s not going to just happen. We need to make it happen.

“We need to get a little (ticked) off,” the three-time Stanley Cup champion continued. “I mean, we can go over the X’s and O’s and everything and all that stuff, but I think everybody, myself included — let’s play with a little more energy, a little more grit, a little more being mean out there.

“It’s frustrating. It’s been a long time since we’ve been like this. It’s not going to happen unless we do it, the guys in the room here. It’s up to us to figure it out and find a way.”

Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton was asked if the losing was taking its toll on his team.

“Sure, it’s a battle,” Colliton said. “We’re not happy where we are. I mean, you’d be crazy to be satisfied. … The only way we’re going to improve is if we stick together.”

Winnipeg had a five-game home winning streak snapped on Tuesday by the Carolina Hurricanes, 6-3. The Jets will be playing without two-thirds of their third line until after the Christmas break.

Center Andrew Copp, one of the team’s top penalty killers who also has 14 points (five goals, nine assists), left the loss to the Hurricanes with an upper-body injury. Left winger Mathieu Perreault, who has six goals and six assists, was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday due to a concussion sustained Sunday in Winnipeg’s 7-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

“It’s tough to lose guys like that,” Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey said. “Both of them have had really strong seasons, and both of them lately have been playing great hockey for us.”

Winnipeg recalled forwards Mason Appleton and Jansen Harkins from the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League to replace the duo. Harkins is tied for the third-most points in the AHL with seven goals and 24 assists in 31 games. Appleton had two penalty minutes in nine games with the Jets earlier this season.

“We got pretty good depth in the organization,” Jets left winger Kyle Connor said. “It’s almost next man up, so when they plug them in, they gotta be ready to play.”

–Field Level Media

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