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Chicago Blackhawks coach Denis Savard wants a renewed commitment from his team heading into the second half of the season. Picking up their play on the road would be a good start.
The Blackhawks begin a season-high seven-game road trip on Wednesday night against the Colorado Avalanche, who are looking to regain their dominance at home.
Chicago (23-23-4) went into the All-Star break following a lackluster 1-0 home loss to Columbus on Thursday. Savard then went on a tirade, questioning his team's effort and willingness to win.
"To gain an inch in this league, you've got to want it and want to work," he said. "You might get a cut. You might get bruised. So what? Last time I checked, you're getting pretty good money to do it. And they don't want to do it. It's as simple as that."
Chicago hasn't reached the postseason - or finished above .500 - since the 2001-02 season.
With 10 losses in their last 14 games, the Blackhawks have dropped into last place in the Central Division and 14th overall in the 15-team Western Conference. Chicago is 10-10-3 on the road and hasn't won away from home in regulation since Dec. 22 - a span of eight games (3-4-1) - when it stunned East-leading Ottawa 4-3.
This road trip means Chicago will not play at home again until Feb. 17 against Colorado.
The Blackhawks hope the All-Star break will not adversely affect Patrick Kane, who continues to lead all rookies with 33 assists and 45 points.
"Last year, I thought I kind of viewed myself more of a goal scorer," Kane said on Friday in Atlanta. "But this year, I seem to be more of a passer this year. Hopefully I can add the goal scoring a little bit more to my arsenal at this level. But I think it will just take some time and just got to adjust a little bit."
The top overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft scored twice on Saturday in the YoungStars Game. He has two goals and two assists against Colorado this season as Chicago has won both meetings.
Defenseman Duncan Keith, the Blackhawks' only representative at Sunday's All-Star game, didn't record a point in the West's 8-7 loss.
The Avalanche have one of the West's best home records at 17-8-1, but stumbled into the break with a 3-2 loss to Minnesota at the Pepsi Center on Thursday.
Andrew Brunette and Wojtek Wolski scored for the short-handed Avalanche (26-20-4), who played without Joe Sakic (hernia), Ryan Smyth (broken right ankle) and All-Star selection Paul Stastny (appendectomy). Those three have accounted for 99 of Colorado's 382 total points this season.
While Stastny is likely to miss another two weeks, Sakic and Smyth might not return until March.
"That's a lot of big guys out of their lineup," said Minnesota's Pavol Demitra. "But they've played good games."
After winning 15 of its first 18 at home this season, Colorado is 2-5-1 in its last eight there and has scored just 13 goals. The Avalanche are 0-for-24 on the power play in that stretch.
Jose Theodore, who likely will start his 11th straight game, is 0-1-1 with a 2.41 goals-against average versus Chicago this season. Backup Peter Budaj, though, has won his last three starts against the Blackhawks, allowing just five goals.