Sleep tough for Jonathan Toews
NEW YORK -- The Chicago Blackhawks are having a difficult time not bringing their work home with them. Mired in a nine-game losing streak, and falling fast in the Western Conference standings, it's something they can't escape.
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"Every minute of the day lately," Jonathan Toews said after practice Wednesday. "It's one of those things you need to try and save that emotional energy for the game, but it's been tough to get some sleep at night the way things have been going lately."
This has become more than a hockey issue for a team preparing to play the eighth game of a nine-game trip.
"I'm one of those guys that thinks about hockey all the time, whether it's going good or bad, so it makes it much more difficult when things aren't going well," Patrick Sharp said.
A power play that has not scored a goal on the road trip combined with breakdowns on defense as well as goalie issues leaves no player immune to the mental burden.
"It's a topic of conversation all the time," Sharp said. "It's not like you punch in at the rink and then go home and you're clear mentally. We take our job seriously. We want to win and I think everyone is concerned away from the rink."
That can be good or bad, according to coach Joel Quenneville. He wants his players to care but to save the emotional energy for the next game. He can see it in his captain's face.
"You look at [Toews] and you know it's bothering him," Quenneville said. "Some guys it affects differently, but Jonny you can see. That's how much he cares."
The Hawks are trying to stick to their normal routines on the road. Heading out for dinner with teammates hasn't changed, but the topic of conversation is different.
"Same team, same bunch of guys except now we're thinking about our losing streak," Patrick Kane said. "Hopefully we can get it out of our minds and just worry about the next game."
The next game is Thursday against the first-place New York Rangers. Corey Crawford will start in net as Quenneville continues to rotate his goalies trying to find a spark. It's been hard for the coach to leave things at the rink as well.
"I always visit after every game, what I could do differently," Quenneville said.
At times like these the hockey gods are often invoked. Losing nine games in row does take some misfortune. Toews was asked if he's made any sacrifices to those gods.
"I've sacrificed a few sticks already," he said.
Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPN 1000 and ESPNChicago.com.