There's low, then there's Hawks

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:07 AM ET

It's not easy finding new lows when you've lost eight straight, 10 of your last 11 and are miles out of a playoff spot at the halfway mark of the season.

But the struggling Chicago Blackhawks managed just that yesterday in a 5-0 loss that made any other 5-0 loss you'll see this season seem thrilling and competitive comparison.

"We got outworked, we got outplayed, they beat us to all the loose pucks, we couldn't find a way to get past their defence," said Hawks veteran Matthew Barnaby, forgetting the part about being outskated, outsmarted and hopelessly outclassed.

"It's very frustrating.We knew they were going to be ready for us after they lost the first two games we played.

"They're a proud group, they came out from the drop of the puck, took it to us, and we didn't recover."

Five-straight one-goal losses heading into this one had the fledgling Hawks convinced they were close, but the 5-0 shellacking shows them just how far they have to go.

"The first period was fairly close and in the second they just blew it wide open and we couldn't answer," said defenceman Todd Simpson.

"We couldn't get any offence going and our defence wasn't good enough.

"We haven't had many games this bad, but we have to figure this thing out in a hurry."

The Hawks are loaded with up and coming talent, but right now they look lost, sitting 13th in the West, ahead of only St. Louis and Columbus.

"Any time you don't play as well as you want it's a step backwards," said Barnaby.

"We're just going to chalk it up as a bad game and forget about it."

BLACKHAWK DOWNED: Jaroslav Spacek didn't have a history of violence before his run in with Calgary's Byron Ritchie.

Then again, Ritchie didn't have a blown knee before his run in with Spacek.

So there's no arguing the two-game suspension handed down by the NHL yesterday.

Spacek swears he didn't mean to injure anyone, and has a squeaky clean track record to support his claim.

But when you dive headfirst into someone's legs, and the guy has to be carried off the ice, he knows there are consequences.

"They decided to go for two games and I respect that," said the Hawks defencemen, who served the first game of his suspension last night against Edmonton.

"But I didn't intend to hurt him. I saw the guy coming 100 miles per hour. I just jumped on the ice and it was a three on one.

"I tried to reach the puck, go for it, slide under him. I never think about hurting anybody in my seven years here.

"It's bad that he got injured like that.

"But if I was trying to injure somebody, I wouldn't have gone in with my head first."

Spacek only received a two-minute penalty for tripping at the time, and didn't think there would be any supplemental discipline.

"They didn't call five and a game, so I was thinking there was no suspension.

"Then they called me in the morning and said the NHL wants to talk to me, and I heard (Flames coach Darryl) Sutter talking in the news that it was a cheap shot, so then I thought they'd probably do something."

Spacek and Ritchie were teammates together in the minors.

"I know the guy," said Spacek. "It (feels) even worse."


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