It may have been more the product of frustration, but Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon may need to resort to some kind of drastic measures.
After another lackluster loss Thursday night at the United Center, this one 6-1 against Colorado, Tallon said he may have to put his team up in a hotel before home games to try to trick them into thinking they are on the road.Staying in a hotel when a team is home is common in the playoffs to get away from distractions. To do so in the regular season certainly would be different.
Although their record is about equal at home and on the road--they came into Thursday with 28 home points and 27 on the road--the Hawks have scored 86 goals on the road compared with just 68 at the United Center.
The Hawks fell to 12-16-4 at home with the loss to the Avalanche. Only the Philadelphia Flyers have fewer points on home ice than the Hawks' 28. Colorado scored six unanswered goals after Tuomo Ruutu put the Hawks up 1-0 after only 71 seconds.
It was Ruutu's 14th goal of the season and his first in six games but not enough to prevent the Hawks from losing for the 12th time in their last 14 home games.
A case can be made that the Hawks' playoff chances died at the United Center in January. The Hawks had eight of 10 games at home that month and began the stretch 17-18-5. But after winning only one of the eight games and losing the two road games, they fell to 18-25-7 as their postseason hopes vanished.
"I have no idea why. . . . I really don't have an answer for it," defenseman Brent Seabrook said of the home woes. "It's something we have to be hungrier for and come prepared to play a full 60 minutes. I don't know if we're trying to impress the fans with pretty plays. I don't know."
Hawks coach Denis Savard said it might be harder for a younger team to prepare for a home game than on the road.
"They probably will find a lot of friends as they go on here," Savard said. "I told them [Wednesday] to start preparing [for the game] after practice."
The Hawks' struggles at the United Center are nothing new. Since moving into the building in 1995, the have had only four seasons in which they had a winning record on home ice.
In their one playoff appearance in the last eight years--2001-02--they collected 62 out of a possible 82 points at home.
"A young guy mentally may put too much pressure on himself to do too much [at home]," veteran winger Martin Lapointe said.
Savard said he only can do so much and relayed to his team how he prepared for games.
"The first thing when I got up in the morning I started thinking about the game and situations I might be facing that particular night," Savard said.
Despite losing 10 pounds since Monday night because of the flu, and not participating in the morning skate, Martin Havlat was in the lineup after missing Tuesday's game. Havlat picked up an assist on Ruutu's goal. Savard said if Havlat played he would try to limit his minutes to about 10, then played him 13 in the first two periods alone. . . . Rene Bourque was sidelined Thursday with the flu. Danny Richmond, normally a defenseman, played left wing in Bourque's absence. . . . Ruutu was moved back to center between Havlat and Radim Vrbata. . . . Cam Barker was also back in the lineup after missing the last three games with a bruised foot.