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Lack of goals becoming major frustration for Blackhawks

Paul Skrbina, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Hockey

The Stanley Cup playoffs don't begin today. Or tomorrow. Or the day after that.

In fact, there are more than five months' worth of todays and tomorrows before they do.

So forgive the offensively challenged-of-late Blackhawks, who are 7-6-2, for not making summer vacation plans in November despite ranking 18th of 31 teams with a 2.87 goals-per-game average.

Despite scoring 21 goals -- including 10 in the season opener -- in their first four games and 22 in 11 games since. Despite scoring just three non-empty-net goals in their last three games. Despite zero five-on-five goals in more than 150 minutes and counting.

Patrick Kane used the word "frustrating" to describe the slump, which, if the playoffs began today or tomorrow, would leave the Blackhawks on a beach somewhere, on the outside looking in.

"It seems like we either have the chances or we're not really producing much," Kane said Sunday after the Blackhawks were blanked 2-0 by the Canadiens, whose third-string goalie, Charlie Lindgren, was playing in just his fourth NHL game.

"It's not really fun when it's going that way. That just comes with being more confident around the net. Being a little bit more patient if the puck comes on your stick. Take that extra second and put it where it needs to be."

It's not like the Blackhawks haven't had their chances. Through Sunday they were fourth in the league with 501 shots on goal. But they've managed to convert on just 43, or 8.6 percent.

They've also allowed 508 shots, second-most in the league.

And not all shots are created equally. What the Blackhawks have possessed in quantity, they've sometimes lacked in quality when it comes to shot selection.

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