Chicago Blackhawks lose to Columbus Blue Jackets for 6th straight loss

In the long view, the Chicago Blackhawks continue to be winners by being losers.

In the here and now, it’s hard to dress up the ugly display the Hawks put on during a 5-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the United Center on Saturday, their sixth straight.

Rebuilding is a process, which certainly will be aided by better draft lottery odds as the league’s last-place team.

But over and over again it’s stated that players are competitive by nature and “they don’t like losing no matter what the circumstances are,” said Ryan Donato, who scored one of the Hawks’ two goals Saturday and assisted on the other by Philipp Kurashev.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow to lose, but at the end of the day, there’s a bigger picture (at) play. I think guys know that. But you’ve still got to win.”

Kurashev said, “When you play bad, you kind of deserve to lose. It’s frustrating.”

Culture is a process too.

The Hawks can’t just be satisfied with the young core just learning. They have to learn the elements of winning and repeat that formula over and over.

“I think you tell them it’s not all right to lose, right?” Donato said. “That’s the biggest thing. And they’re not comfortable with losing either.

“These young guys are hungry. They don’t like losing. That’s a good thing. … That’s a bright spot in the future is how sick of losing these guys are. I’m happy to be part of that and hopefully we can grow it.”

Here are six takeaways.

1. How to describe this loss? “Sloppy,” to start.

Coach Luke Richardson said the Hawks weren’t composed.

“It was a real sloppy game by us, right from the start,” he said. “We played really slow. We kept turning pucks back and they kept coming at us, so it’s a bad combination.”

“When it’s bouncing on you and bouncing against you, you have to simplify and slash and support and advance the puck and just play in the other team’s zone. We just couldn’t figure that out quick enough.”

It was a bad sign from the start when Seth Jones fumbled the puck under no pressure — right to Alexandre Texier, who took the gift and stuffed it past Arvid Söderblom 33 seconds into the game.

Richardson said, “The first play was just a tough one. … That puck should’ve been out twice before that happened, but we kept turning it back in the first period, thinking we were going to get something better and it ended up being something worse.”

Jones’ giveaway wouldn’t be the last.

During a second-period power play, Nick Foligno made a spinning blind pass to Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski.

It ended up as an odd-man rush the other way and Jones tripped Sean Kuraly.

Richardson said, “On the power play, we get the puck and we panic and throw it away when they’re actually retreating. … Instead of maybe taking a step and having some composure and feeling, looking and talking with each other. Just not a smart game.

“Even on the change on the power play, you’re disappointed so three guys change, (Columbus) is smart so they take off and get a 3-on-1, and Seth actually had to take a penalty on that. Things like that.

Things like when the Hawks jumped out on a rush and Boris Katchouk passed behind Isaak Phillips, getting picked off by Yegor Chinakhov.

“Four-on-four, their penalty is running out, and we turn the puck over at the blue line in the second period instead of dumping it in, and now we’re on our heels and we have tired guys out there killing on a fresh power play in the second period,” Richardson said. “We got away with it, but it just wasn’t a very smart game.”

Kurashev said it was just poor execution all around.

“Our passes and stuff, they were never flat, and bouncing pucks,” he said. “We’ve got to figure it out, how to play in those circumstances. We didn’t do a good job tonight.”

2. You wanted net front? Ryan Donato gives you net front.

Chicago Blackhawks' Ryan Donato (8) celebrates after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Chicago Blackhawks’ Ryan Donato celebrates after scoring a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, March 2, 2024, at the United Center. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

The Hawks gave a quick hook to Anthony Beauvillier playing on the top line with Connor Bedard and Kurashev.

Now, they’re giving Donato, who started the season on Bedard’s line, another spin.

“Donato’s a guy who goes to the net and he’s a shooter,” Richardson said before the game. “We just thought it looked good at the end of last game. We tried something and we thought we’d give it a go here tonight.”

It didn’t start well.

During the first period, Kevin Korchinski set up Donato with a one-time opportunity from net front, but he whiffed.

Donato couldn’t remember it after the game.

“Wish I could,” he said. “Probably gave me a great pass that I somehow screwed it up.”

However, later in the period, Donato shoveled a pass up from behind the net to Bedard, who kicked it over to Kurashev for the Hawks’ first goal.

In the third, Kurashev’s shot bounced off the back wall and Donato charged in and tucked it in the corner.

It was Donato’s first goal since Dec. 22.

“I’m happy we finally got some offense going, but also we’ve got to be responsible in our own end,” he said.

Richardson gave Donato the equivalent of a B+.

“There were times where Donato, just like everybody else, maybe overhandled the puck a couple times, but his try was great in going to the net,” he said. “That’s what he does well, and he was rewarded with the goal, which was nice to see.

“Hopefully that can bring some confidence to him on the scoresheet. He kind of missed and whiffed on one in the first period, but I like that he was in the right spot to get the chance.”

3. Well, that escalated quickly.

Columbus Blue Jackets' Alexandre Texier (42) celebrates with teammates at the bench after scoring during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Columbus Blue Jackets’ Alexandre Texier celebrates with teammates at the bench after scoring during the first period against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, March 2, 2024, at the United Center. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Texier’s opening goal was the second-quickest score allowed to a Hawks opponent this season.

Here are the fast three scores by the opponent:

  • 39 seconds: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, 4-3 loss to the Florida Panthers on Nov. 12
  • 33 seconds: Alexandre Texier, 5-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday
  • 15 seconds: Sidney Crosby, 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 15

4. Arvid Söderblom struggled again.

Columbus Blue Jackets' Kirill Marchenko (86) moves the puck against Chicago Blackhawks' Louis Crevier (46) and goalie Arvid Soderblom (40) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Columbus Blue Jackets’ Kirill Marchenko moves the puck against Chicago Blackhawks’ Louis Crevier and goalie Arvid Söderblom during the second period on Saturday, March 2, 2024, at the United Center. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

It wasn’t a disaster — like earlier games in which he was or should’ve been pulled — just more of what has become Söderblom’s norm.

On the positive side, he survived a slow start by the Hawks defense where they couldn’t seem to get a stick on the puck (not counting the one Jones turned over).

On the bad side, there’s no way to characterize the Mathieu Olivier backhand goal as anything other than a softy.

“Yeah, I think so, on the short side,” Richardson said. “But it came quick and (Olivier) whacked it as it was coming, changed the speed, changed the direction just a little bit and found a hole.

“Just like everything else going against us tonight, it just seemed destined to go in.”

5. Cultural shift?

Chicago Blackhawks center Tyler Johnson, right, and center Jason Dickinson warm up for the team's NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)
Chicago Blackhawks’ Tyler Johnson and Jason Dickinson warm up for a game on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, at the United Center. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

Tyler Johnson brings a unique perspective to the Hawks locker room.

He got to watch the Tampa Bay Lightning build themselves into back-to-back winners. In the last couple of seasons, he has watched the Hawks tear it all down and start from scratch.

“I was lucky in Tampa, we built that for basically 10 years,” he said after morning skate Saturday. “My first year we traded a lot of guys and they wanted to change the culture, and it took a long time.”

The Hawks have been a turnstile when it comes to leadership. Out are the old guard like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. In are newcomers like Nick Foligno and Jason Dickinson.

Johnson, another leader, could find himself out of Chicago himself if he’s traded this week or doesn’t re-sign with the Hawks.

“Culture is a funny thing, because when you have it you just have it, you know,” he said. “It’s one of those things that you do have to build it, but when you get new guys coming in, it’s changed.

“Guys have different personalities, different ways of doing things. From my first year here three years ago, it’s completely different from what it is now just because we’ve had so many different changes, so many different guys.”

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