Home ice of little help to Blackhawks these days

Published: 3/16/2009 12:08 AM

This was supposed to be the month when the Blackhawks cleaned up on home ice, secured fourth place in the Western Conference and got ready for the playoffs.

Instead the Hawks might be wishing it still was February and they were playing the majority of their games on the road.

Sunday's 4-2 loss to the New York Islanders made the Hawks 3-4-1 at the United Center since that fabulous stretch of 9-3 on the road.

"It was a great opportunity to take advantage of our home schedule here, and we didn't do a good job," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "But it's a long season and we were very successful here before. It's up to us to recapture that feeling and a home-ice presence."

The Hawks start a two-game road trip Tuesday in New Jersey. And if it wasn't tough enough to beat the Devils on the road, the Hawks also will try to avoid being part of history when New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur goes for his NHL-record 552nd career victory.

Brodeur tied Patrick Roy's mark of 551 on Saturday night with a win in Montreal.

"He's been an amazing goalie," Quenneville said. "You have to commend him for his longevity and for the number of wins he gets every year."

The defense rests: It's no secret the Hawks' three best defensemen - Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Brian Campbell - are struggling.

Seabrook was on the ice for all 4 Islanders goals and Keith for 3 of them. Keith is minus-5 in the last five games, Seabrook minus-4.

"It's frustrating," Seabrook said. "I was out there for 4 goals and I have to be way better than that. It seems like we're not getting the bounces, but you can't use that as an excuse. We've got to make our own bounces."

Campbell is minus-8 in the last five games and hasn't scored a goal in 29 games.

On a roll: The Islanders might have the fewest number of points in the NHL at 56, but they are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games.

They weren't supposed to beat the Hawks on Sunday, but they did behind 40 saves from rookie goalie Peter Mannino in his first NHL start.

"It's a great feeling to come into Chicago and steal a game away from them," Mannino said.

Tip-ins: Jack Skille participated in the pregame skate Sunday in case Martin Havlat couldn't play, but he wasn't formally recalled from Rockford by the Hawks. - The Islanders were credited with 19 blocked shots to the Hawks' 8. - The Hawks won 64 percent of the faceoffs, with Jonathan Toews going 18-6.