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Blackhawks' response: Blank look
With two top offensive players out, coach Trent Yawney made it simple for any Hawk who felt he should be on the ice more: "It's put up or shut up time."
The silence at the United Center on Wednesday was deafening.
Except of course for the smalland angryannounced crowd of 11,641 that let its feelings be known, as usual.
In what may be a sign of things to come in the next three weeks to a monthor whenever Martin Havlat gets back in the lineupthe Hawks fell easily to the Vancouver Canucks 5-0.
The loss was the Hawks' third in a row and dropped them under .500 (4-5) for the first time this season.
It also came against a Vancouver team that was playing the final game of a five-game trip and finishing a stretch of nine of its first 11 on the road.
But the Canucks still had enough to have their best offensive output of the season against a Hawks team that, at the least, didn't squander a two-goal lead.
"It was a bad game; we have to move on," goaltender Brian Boucher said. "I've got to be better."
Since Havlat sprained his ankle Friday in Dallas, the Hawks' mantra has been that one individual doesn't mean more than the team.
Perhaps. But without Havlat's game-breaking skills to draw opponents' defensive attention, the Hawks looked a lot like the offensively challenged unit from last season.
"We just didn't finish around the net," winger Martin Lapointe said.
They didn't get much started either, putting just three timid shots on Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo in the first 20 minutes.
Yawney said that Luongo "made some big saves" in the second period. By then, though, Luongo was working with a comfortable lead.
Perhaps a better indication of how good Luongo needed to be against the Hawks is the fact that despite picking up his first shutout of the season, Luongo wasn't even one of the three stars of the gameusually a formality for a goalie that produces a 32-save shutout.
Wednesday was the first time this season the Hawks were shut out. It doesn't figure to be the last.
Defenseman Jassen Cullimore was scratched for a second straight game and his situation has the potential to create a problem for the Hawks. It's believed the Hawks would like to trade Cullimore and his $1.9 million salary. But in order to trade him, they need to play him so teams can have a look. But he also needs to play well to get value in return, and that's something Yawney said Cullimore hasn't done.
Yawney said Havlat won't put on skates for at least two weeks.
Monday in Philadelphia or Tuesday in Long Island are the two target dates for Tuomo Ruutu to make his season debut after spraining his knee in the preseason.
Michal Handzus was surprised his injury, a torn ACL in his left knee, was that serious. "I had another shift after [getting hurt]," Handzus said. Handzus said he first thought he would miss a couple of weeks. He'll have surgery and is out for the season.