Blackhawks coach Denis Savardnow presiding over an eight-game losing streak and falling below .500 for his brief coaching careerrepeatedly has said "good things are happening" that haven't shown up yet in the team's record.
The only problem is professional sports teams are judged by one thing: victories.
It would take an eternal optimist to find any good from Friday night's 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild, the club's eighth in a row overall and seventh straight at the United Center.
It even opened Savard's eyes.
"It's unacceptable. We deserve what we got," Savard said of the boos the team received at game's end from the announced crowd of 12,333. "There is no reason for this.
"I can't play for them, I can't go out and work for them. If they don't want to work in games, they'll work in practice when we get back (from the All-Star break), I'll guarantee that. It's a will, you have to have that will. Period."
The loss dropped the Hawks 12 points behind the Wild for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, which should keep them from mentioning the postseason until they are officially eliminated.
Minnesota jumped in front late in the first period on a breakaway goal from Marian Gaborik after an offensive-zone turnover, the first of two Gaborik scores.
Martin Havlat tried a cross-ice pass that eluded Cam Barker and sailed into the neutral zone. The speedy Gaborik easily blew past Barker to collect the loose puck and beat goaltender Brian Boucher through his pads at the 19-minute-35-second mark of the period.
"Unacceptable," Savard repeated. "We've been talking about this for how long? Turnovers, last minute of the period, 0-0 game."
One-goal leads, especially the way the game is played now, shouldn't be much of a deficit. But the Hawks didn't look very dangerous in the first two periods. They managed just 15 shots, with five coming from Brent Seabrook (three) and Karl Stewart (two).
Minnesota had just 15 shots through 40 minutes, but it went into the second intermission with a two-goal lead after another Hawks turnover, this time deep in their own end.
James Wisniewski's clearing pass from behind the net was picked off easily by Mikko Koivu about 15 feet from Boucher. Koivu made a couple of stickhandling moves before finding Stephane Veilleux, who beat a scrambling Boucher midway through the second period.
With Columbus beating Detroit on Friday, the Hawks have fallen into a tie for last place in the Central Division.
"We had maybe two forwards who decided to play physical, the rest of them played with the end of their sticks all night long," Savard said. "That's the result you get in a night like this."
There is a reason why it seems like a long time for Rene Bourque to be out of the lineup with an "ankle bruise." Bourque hasn't played since New Year's Eve and Savard said Friday the ankle was not only bruised but also had a crack in the bone that wasn't detected until a second X-ray was taken. Defenseman Adrian Aucoin, out with a groin injury, was in Toronto on Friday seeing a specialist about the injury. Lasse Kukkonen was scratched for the third straight game. "His feet aren't as quick as they were at the start of the year," Savard said. Also scratched Friday was Jeff Hamilton, who has no goals in his last seven games and just one in his last 12.
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