Just how far can the Chicago Blackhawks’ losing streak stretch? The spluttering Calgary Flames will be hoping just one more game ahead of their Friday night clash. Can the once mighty 'hawks get it together at last?
Chicago are now into their longest road losing streak in more than eight years, after going down 8-4 on Thursday night against the Oilers when Edmonton’s Sam Gagner clocked up four goals and four assists. It’s no comfort to the Hawks, but Gagner tied the club record of eight points in a game (also held by Wayne Gretzky and defenceman Paul Coffey). And it’s an unwanted honour for Chicago that their defeat was the first eight-point NHL game in 23 years!
Not that it matters, but that makes it three out of three for the Oilers against the Hawks. Before they played the Oilers, the Chicago Blackhawks had lost their last three games straight, although their previous match was an overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Those three defeats saw Chicago fall from the top the Western Conference to sixth-place, and were overtaken by Detroit, Nashville and St Louis. They are now just one point ahead of LA and Minnesota.
Worse and worse
That defeat marks Chicago's sixth consecutive road loss. The last time Chicago dropped six straight away from home was during a franchise-record 19-game skid in November 2003 and January 2004. They need to stop the rot and fast. Next up they face the Flames, who have issues of their own.
The Flames are “fresh” from a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Detroit on Tuesday night where Mike Cammalleri scored the Flames’ only goal. It was a sadly familiar display, as Calgary have had goal issues during a 3-3-1 stretch and they've been held to two goals or fewer in six of those games.
What’s more, that loss to Detroit tied the Flames’ season-high three-game home skid from November, but Calgary haven't dropped four straight at home since Oct. 28-Nov. 17, 2010.
Something’s gotta give
Calgary is usually a good place to come for a team searching for a win as the Flames have scored just 55 goals in the Scotiabank Saddledome, the lowest total within the NHL (for home goals scored).
Looking at Chicago's recent history against Calgary sends out mixed messages. Both times that Calgary visited Chicago this season the home side scored four goals and skated out comfortable winners. The scores back in December and November were 4-2 and 4-1 in Chicago's favour. However sandwiched between those two victories was a game up in Calgary where Chicago went down 2-5 on the 18th of November last year.
After Chicago plays the Flames on Friday night they will have five of the next six days off with just Tuesday's match in Colorado to interrupt their rest. With that much downtime it’s important to go in on a win so the players don't stew. But I fear that Calgary will be a bridge too far for the Blackhawks, and things will just get worse. Don’t forget that aside from recent woes Chicago haven’t beaten the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome in two years, losing on their last three trips to Calgary by a combined 15-5 goal margin.
Hockey betting prediction: 4-2 to the Flames