Hawks Insider

Blackhawks starving for offense without Connor Bedard

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The Chicago Blackhawks dropped their sixth consecutive game on Friday after falling to the New York Rangers 4-3 in overtime at the United Center. It's now their longest losing skid of the season; their previous was five, which they had done twice.

A big reason why: Chicago just cannot score. And it hasn't been able to since Connor Bedard suffered a fractured jaw on Jan. 5, although the Blackhawks did find a way to put three on the board on Friday for just the second time in 12 games.

"It's hard," Philipp Kurashev said of the offensive struggles. "But you can't be in your head too much. I think it's easy to let that get to you and you start overthinking stuff. We've just got to keep it simple like shoot the puck and it's going to go in for sure."

In the 13 games without Bedard, the Blackhawks are averaging only 1.38 goals-per-game. In the 39 games with Bedard, they average 2.31.

Granted, the 2.31 still ranks 31st in the NHL over that stretch, but you just cannot win when you're scoring barely above one goal per game.

"I think we are creating a lot of chances but now it's about you have to finish it too," Kurashev said. "You don't win a game with creating chances, so we've got to be better in that and I think today was a good step."

The power play hasn't helped, either. The Blackhawks have scored only three goals on 34 opportunities for a success rate of 8.8 percent, which ranks 30th during that span.

So, what can the Blackhawks do to generate more offense? It obviously can't fall on one player.

"I think it's probably team-based, right?" Nick Foligno said. "Like it's not one guy that's going to go end to end, it's how are we going to get pucks into the dirty areas more and have that identity of when we do get it at the point or you're inside the dots, it's going to the net, and we have to get people there and you get those dirty ones and all of a sudden now the game starts to open up a little bit too where teams are now packing it in because they realize you're putting pucks there and maybe now you have a little bit more space to play on the outside and then maybe the prettier goals come because of that.

"We're doing the right things, now it's about finishing it too, right?"

Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson seems to think the scoring slump will end sooner than later. And he's trying to make his player believe it too.

"I’ve been telling them all along: we’ve been having the scoring chances — quality ones, not just outside chances — and they’re just not bouncing in," Richardson said. "It’s coming. I said I believe, but I’m just trying to make them let them know that we’re with them and we believe in them and we see some good things and stay with it and good things will happen."

The Blackhawks are 3-9-1 in the 13 games since Bedard has been out. His timeline hasn't changed and Richardson said he isn't expected to return before the six weeks.

So the Blackhawks will have to figure out a way to generate more offense without their franchise cornerstone for the foreseeable future.

"It's hard," Kurashev said. "But it's part of the game and we've got to figure it out."

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