All in all, the Blackhawks were fairly content with their first 60 games of the season. They lead the league in scoring and have positioned themselves to contend for the top seed in the Western Conference over the final 22 games.
But one statistic has gnawed at them throughout the season and over the Olympic break: their losses in overtimes or shootouts. That number sits at an NHL-high 14 entering their game Thursday against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
That's 14 points left on the ice and 14 chances to become the pacesetters in the West rather than be three points behind the conference-leading Ducks.
"We can't get that extra point, which could be crucial the next couple of games," winger Bryan Bickell said Wednesday. "We get into OT, we need to bear down. We practice our shootouts enough in practice. We have to keep it simpler, not try too much."
The Hawks are 5-8 in shootouts but have lost six of their last seven. For as much as the number bothers them, it's not as if the Hawks have neglected practicing shootout situations.
"It's probably a fluky stat over the course of this year," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Over the past couple, three four years it has been a positive stat for us."
Quenneville did say the Hawks could improve their four-on-four alignments during overtimes. The Hawks are 0-6 in games that have ended in overtime. When the extra period comes, Bickell said, the Hawks' strategy changes and their mindset differs from the 60 minutes of regulation.
"Q doesn't like us dumping the puck in," Bickell said. "He wants us to have the puck as much as possible. Get the defense in the rush for odd-man rushes, doing things we usually don't do five-on-five. We just have to capitalize on our opportunities. These are crucial points for home ice, especially in the long run."
The Olympic break represented an opportunity for the Hawks to forget about that statistic for a while.
"Maybe after this break we can ... put it behind us and not let it snowball in the wrong direction the way it has all year," captain Jonathan Toews said.
For now, the snowball isn't about to turn into an avalanche, but if the problem isn't solved soon, it could.
"We maybe just need to get some confidence," center Marcus Kruger said. "Get a win, get some confidence, and that solves everything. It could be that easy."
It just hasn't looked that easy so far.