Hawks must shift focus to defense

EDMONTON -- After 52 games the Chicago Blackhawks shouldn’t need to see any more evidence: They need drastic changes on defense or in goal. An 8-4 drubbing in Edmonton on Thursday night completed an Oilers season sweep in Alberta, by a combined 17-6 score.

“We were rolling along with the same group here so we have to find it and get back to it,” coach Joel Quenneville said afterwards about possible personnel changes.

They were rolling along by winning games with their offense, though. That’s usually not the formula to win in the postseason even if they’ve won their share so far.

“All we’re thinking about is scoring goals,” Jonathan Toews said. “We’re not worried about our own end. We’re a smart defensive team if we commit ourselves to doing it.”

The Hawks were up 2-0 on Thursday before the wheels fell off. It’s hard to imagine not committing to it, after losing to this same team in the same building 9-2 in November.

Changes have to be coming; 52 games have proven the Hawks aren’t doing it with what they have. They’re near the bottom of the league in most defensive categories.

Ray Emery should start on Friday in Calgary -- and likely be in net for several games after that. That’s the first option. The next one includes trading for a defenseman. The sooner both options are examined, the sooner we’ll know if those could be the answers to the Hawks' problems on defense.


Andrew Brunette left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury. Joel Quenneville indicated it could be of a serious nature, but Brunette would be examined further on Friday.

• The line of Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Sam Gagner of the Oilers combined for 16 points in two periods. With eight points in the game Gagner jumped 90 spots in scoring from 200th to 110 in the NHL.

Dave Bolland, Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger were a combined minus-7.

• The Hawks gave up 24 goals to the Oilers in their four game season series. Edmonton won three.