WASHINGTON -- At what point does the urgency come? When does the skill of the top players who have won three Stanley Cups begin to emerge, allowing the Hawks to shed this current, middling version of themselves and become the contenders they have been the last decade.
There are always some who are concerned -- just search "Blackhawks" on Twitter to gauge some diehard fans' reactions.
But two months into the season, it is more than fair to ask if the Blackhawks as you have come to know them the last 10 years will ever show up this season.
Wednesday's 6-2 loss to the Capitals was the Hawks' fifth consecutive loss and they remain out of the playoffs in the Western Conference.
Coach Joel Quenneville changed up the lines headed into Wednesday's game -- and those lasted all of a period and a half before he changed them again.
It didn't help that the Hawks are missing goaltender Corey Crawford, and backup Anton Forsberg certainly had a rough night -- he was pulled for Jean-Francois Berube after allowing three goals in the first 15 minutes, 22 seconds of the game.
But the Hawks have been inconsistent scoring this season 5-on-5 and especially on the power play, which has been more woeful than it has been energetic.
There was hope Wednesday this trip to the Capital One Center might be better than the last two the Hawks took to face the Capitals. Those had gone about as well as the British's trip to Washington did in 1812. They lost their last two visits here by a combined margin of nine goals.
For the opening 10 minutes, there was the chance this trip would be better. The Hawks were controlling the puck in their own zone and held the Capitals to just one shot on goal. But that changed quickly.
The Capitals dictated the game in the second half of the period and got a trio of goals to open up a 3-0 lead and chase Forsberg. First, Nicklas Backstrom snapped a 21-game streak after he scored from the slot 11 minutes, 54 seconds into the period.
The second goal was all on Forsberg. Shortly after a faceoff in the Hawks defensive zone, Wilson flicked a seemingly harmless puck at the net, but the shot beat Forsberg short side at 14:53 and put the Hawks in a 2-0 hole.
Just 29 seconds later, Forsberg's night was done when Alex Ovechkin cleaned up a rush chance rebound from Wilson. The boat race near the Potomac was on.
The thing was, the Hawks didn't play all that terribly for the majority of the period. But that five minutes doomed them, and they didn't have the firepower to come back after Lance Bouma scored late in the first period to give them a little lift until Jonathan Toews scored on a breakaway late in the third. But the Hawks couldn't make a more significant dent on the scoreboard. That has been the case too often this season.
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