After nine days on the road, the Blackhawks are back in Chicago and had their first practice on Tuesday.
They set out on their five-game road trip, which began and ended in Winnipeg, three points out of a playoff spot. After going 1-4-0 on the trip with the lone victory in Calgary, the Hawks find themselves eight points out of the postseason promised land, in danger of missing the playoffs for a third consecutive year.
"I think we just have to take care of our mentality," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I think we played pretty hard the last three games of the trip. Obviously didn't get the results we wanted. But the challenge is to stick with it, continue to play that way and improve."
In their latest stint on the road, Chicago lost 2-5 in Winnipeg, lost 3-5 in Edmonton (without Connor McDavid), lost 0-3 in Vancouver (Hawks dominated with 49 shots on goal), won 8-4 in Calgary and lost 2-3 in Winnipeg.
"We want to keep working at our game and we feel there's more to get, but the biggest thing is we need to compete, we need to work, we need to have that edge to our game that I think, for the most part, we had. Then those results will come for us," Colliton said.
Even with possible improvements and the right mindset, the Hawks are facing a monumental challenge in jumping the four teams ahead of them for a playoff spot.
If it's possible to right the ship before time runs out, the journey begins on Wednesday at the United Center against former Blackhawk Artemi Panarin and the New York Rangers.
"Focus on the first period tomorrow," Colliton said. "Prepare with as much urgency and desperation as we have all year."
"I think we've been playing better lately and we actually played pretty well on the road trip," said Patrick Kane after practice. "I look at the first two games. We had the lead.
"Obviously, any of the last three games we could have come away with the win as well. Played pretty well in those games, so just a matter of executing in certain situations and playing the same way but trying to get the results in the net."
The power play was the difference on the trip and in the Hawks' season as a whole. They went 0-for-14 on the man advantage during the five-game trek.
"The power play has been something that hasn't been clicking this year," Kane said. "That's something we're trying to improve on and get better at, and I guess the last game we didn't have any power plays but still, throughout the road trip, a goal here and there can make a difference in a game."
Kane, who has 74 points (27 goals, 47 assists) in 59 games this season, thinks it's still possible for the Hawks to reach the postseason.
"I think we have 23 games left. Obviously, we're going to need to go on some type of run," he said. "We're going to need to win five or six in a row at some point, maybe even more to get ourselves back in the picture. I think right now, just kind of focus on this two-game homestand.
"We got the Rangers coming in tomorrow then obviously Nashville. A huge game for us as well. Just try to get a win tomorrow. Let's get the crowd excited. Let's get the team excited and then [there will be] a huge game on Friday."