So, with 46 games left in the season after Wednesday's 2-1 loss at home to the 30th-place St. Louis Blues, the question for the Blackhawks is: What's the plan now?
Three straight losses later, Columbus is coming to town Friday trailing the Hawks by seven points. The immediate goal now may be to avoid falling even further into the standings abyss.
With teams beginning to separate themselves in the playoff chase, the trade market may begin to heat up in the next month.
St. Louis wasn't as generous Wednesday as it was a couple of weeks ago when it outplayed the Hawks for two periods yet lost 5-1.
Eric Brewer's rebound of a Scott Young shot, seconds after a failed Hawks power play, put the Blues up 1-0 late in the first period.
Dallas Drake converted on the Blues' fourth power play of the first periodscoring with 43 seconds remainingto make it 2-0.
Rookie goaltender Jason Bacashihua, who made his NHL-debut at the United Center, kept the Hawks at bay until Kyle Calder finally broke through at 15:28 of the third period to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Hawks had leads in the final minute of their last two games only to end up losing in overtime.
After Calder's goal cut the lead in half, the Hawks were hoping to flip the script. But Jim Dowd took an interference penalty with just more than two minutes left in the game and the Blues were able to keep the puck in the Hawks end for all but the final few seconds.
Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, who has 11 victories in 31 starts, left the game after two periods with what team officials said was a "leg injury." Two of St. Louis' nine victories this season have come against the Hawks. Tuesday a local television reporter asked coach Trent Yawney about Pavel Vorobiev, who told the reporter his leg was bothering him. Vorobiev missed seven games earlier in the year with a sore ankle. Yawney said a leg injury to Vorobiev "was news to me." Vorobiev was scratched Wednesday, although team officials said he was a healthy scratch. It's the second time in the last four games Vorobiev was a healthy scratch. He is scoreless and a minus-2 in his last three games. Yawney said Wednesday, "I'm not worried about the goal-scoring because we score enough goals" and said the Hawks just need to be better defensively. The Hawks came into play Wednesday one of just nine teams in the league yet to reach 100 goals for the season. Their 96 goals ranked 26th in the league. Dowd and Matthew Barnaby saw power-play time Wednesday. Going into the game Dowd had been averaging 18 seconds of power-play time per game while Barnaby was getting 35 seconds. Wednesday, Dowd had 1:40 on power plays and Barnaby 1:31. Tallon left Wednesday for the World Junior tournament in Vancouver. The Hawks have eight players competing. From the three-hundred level after yet another Hawks penalty Wednesday: "Bring back obstruction!"