Caleb Jones has struggled for the Blackhawks in recent weeks.
AP Photo/Matt Marton
DALLAS — Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson recently sat down struggling defenseman Caleb Jones to show him a specific video clip.
In it, Lightning star Mikhail Sergachev — analytically one of top-performing defensemen in the NHL so far this season — casually skated out from behind his net, then accidentally lost the puck right in the slot. Stars forward Radek Faksa jumped on the puck and immediately scored a game-tying goal with less than five minutes left.
Richardson’s message? Over the course of thousands of shifts over 82 games, mistakes are inevitable. Even the best players make them. And they’re not worth beating oneself up about.
“That can happen,” Caleb Jones said. “It’s just bad ‘puck luck.’ It’s a long season, and that happens to everyone. [You have to] keep your confidence and keep pushing and getting better. It was a good conversation.”
Jones knows he has struggled lately. That’s no secret. His nightmarish stretch started last week against the Hurricanes, when he caused a goal against with a disastrous pass from behind his own net in similar fashion to Sergachev.
It continued against the Blues, when all five goals the Hawks allowed came with him on the ice. And after being healthy-scratched against the Bruins in order to reset mentally, it culminated against the Penguins, when Sidney Crosby beat him to score the game-winning goal and spoil the Hawks’ comeback.
The Hawks’ scoring-chance ratio during Jones’ five-on-five ice time this season had fallen to 37.8% — which ranked 203rd among 211 defensemen league-wide — entering Wednesday’s game against the Stars. Over the last six games, his ratio was 31.4%. (To be fair, every Hawks defenseman currently sits in the bottom half of the league.)
After morning skate Wednesday, Jones could only chuckle about it the minus-five night; he’d never experienced anything like that before in his hockey-playing life. But as he has throughout his Chicago tenure, he still took accountability for his struggles.
“The last three or four [games], there have been a couple mishaps,” Jones said. “I have to find a way personally, when those games happen, to bounce back better and make sure they don’t last. That’s just a learning process for me. Overall this year, I started out really good, but the last three or four games have been a little down. So I just have to stay confident and work my way through it. It’s just a little slump. I’ll be alright.”
Source:: Chicago Sun Times
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