The Blackhawks have lost four games in a row, dropping from first to fifth in the Western Conference, and now have seen Patrick Sharp join Daniel Carcillo and Marcus Kruger on the injury report.
“We're not in panic mode by any means,” captain Jonathan Toews said following Tuesday's morning skate. “We're not worrying about it. All the good teams go through stretches like this.”
The Hawks, still just 2 points behind West-leading Vancouver despite their woes, host Columbus on Tuesday night at the United. The Blue Jackets are the worst team in the NHL and nothing but a victory over them will do.
It will be the Hawks' first full game without Sharp, who broke his left wrist in the first period of Sunday's loss to Detroit, and the responsibility to replace his offense falls to a number of players.
Patrick Kane has only 3 goals in 23 games, but Hawks such as Dave Bolland, Viktor Stalberg, Michael Frolik and Bryan Bickell need to step up as well in the absence of Sharp.
Frolik, who will center the second line for Marian Hossa and Ben Smith against the Blue Jackets, hasn't scored a goal in 11 games. Bickell has no goals in seven games and just 1 in his last 25.
Bolland has 1 goal in 10 games while Stalberg has quieted down after a hot stretch with no goals in six games.
Bolland will center the third line between Bickell and Andrew Shaw.
“Whether Bolly's got the checking assignment or not, that line has got be more consistent and effective at both ends of the rink,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I know we're looking for a little more from them.”
Bolland is minus-6 and Bickell minus-9. Frolik, who has played mostly with Bolland and Bickell until recently, is minus-7.
Kane knows he needs to pick up his scoring with Sharp gone for the next 3-to-4 weeks.
“He's a big part of our offense, scores a lot of goals and has been playing great this year,” Kane said. “It's tough to lose a guy like that, especially when he's having such a great season.
“Guys like myself and other guys have to step up and start scoring.”
Toews has seen Kane pressing in recent games to break out of his slump.
“He's been putting a little too much pressure on himself,” Toews said. “We know we've just got to keep playing and getting those chances. Some nights they all go in and some nights they don't. It's all about your attitude and mindset, knowing that the puck can go in and finding a way to do that.”