BLACKHAWKS AT RED WINGS
The facts: 11:30, Ch. 5, 720-AM.
Updated: May 30, 2013 5:27PM
Is the grind of the condensed 48-game season getting to the Blackhawks?
When their record-setting streak of 24 games without a regulation loss to start the season was snapped with back-to-back losses against the Avalanche and Oilers, a pair of random, but not unexpected, events were to blame: a four-goal second period by the Avalanche and a four-goal first period by the Oilers. It happens to the best of them.
But in three regulation losses in the last four games, the Hawks frittered away points by allowing late third-period goals — a trait unbecoming of a team with championship aspirations.
A team that has found a way to win all season suddenly has been finding a way to lose. They allowed a goal by the Ducks’ Sheldon Souray with 2:08 left in a 2-1 loss Friday night. They lost a 4-3 lead against the Kings by allowing goals with 11:54 and 1:27 left in regulation. They lost a 2-1 lead against the Ducks in Anaheim by allowing goals with 5:27 and 4:23 left in regulation.
Is that a red flag, an indication that injuries to Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp and the rigors of the lockout-shortened season are wearing down the once-invincible Hawks? Are bigger, stronger opponents reeling in a team that thrives on its speed and precision? Or is this a typical lull, the mental fatigue of an arduous NHL season afflicting the Hawks like a bad cold that has to run its course?
‘‘I think we’re fine,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said after Saturday’s practice before Sunday’s game against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. ‘‘You look at what we’ve given up against Anaheim for 55 minutes in all three games — we gave up one goal the whole game. Late in the game . . . that’s when they’re scoring. Other than that, [allowing late goals] has been the only unusual stat. It’s tough to say why. I wouldn’t say it’s a trend.’’
Not that Quenneville hasn’t noticed the pattern.
‘‘That’s something we’ve talked about,’’ Quenneville said, ‘‘especially after the Anaheim, L.A. games so close to each other and all three Anaheim games — exactly the same blueprint.’’
Quenneville figures to do what he does best to combat the situation — tinker with the roster and the lineup. With Hossa and Sharp still out with injuries, the Hawks called up 21-year-old forward Jeremy Morin on Saturday. It’s unlikely that will be the only change — at least until Hossa and Sharp return, which could happen this week.
‘‘Last five minutes of the game you don’t get points . . . those are significant points,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘When it doesn’t work, you try some different things. Hopefully, we’ve got the right recipe to get the job done.’’
The Hawks are 4-5-0 in their last nine games — not an unusual rut even for championship contenders over the course of a season. But when you started out 21-0-3, it gives the impression their slip is showing.
‘‘We know what the problem is,’’ Patrick Kane said. ‘‘We haven’t been playing that great. We’ve been giving up leads late. [But] I think it’s sometimes good to face a little adversity, build our group up better as a team. If we go through it now, hopefully we learn from it, and it doesn’t happen [in the playoffs].’’
NOTES: The Hawks were deep into discussions about a trade with the Islanders for veteran defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky before he agreed to a two-year, $9.5 million contract extension Friday, according to a source.
The Hawks appear to be looking for blue-line help, as well as depth at center, as Wednesday’s trade deadline approaches.
The Hawks also are taking a look at Sharks power forward Ryan Clowe, who would add some needed size to the lineup, according to a source.
◆ Quenneville said Viktor Stalberg, who was struck in the face with a puck in Friday night’s game against Anaheim, ‘‘likely’’ will play against the Red Wings.
◆ Neither Patrick Sharp nor Marian Hossa made the trip. Neither was ruled out of Monday’s game against the Predators.
Contributing: Mark Lazerus