Blackhawks, Avalanche surrounded by rumors ahead of matchup

The Chicago Blackhawks have proven over the last seven seasons that simply being good is not good enough. With three Stanley Cup championships in six years, the Blackhawks are continually aiming to lift the trophy in June.

After a disheartening 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night they are ready to take out their frustrations on the next opponent. Fortunately for them it comes against the worst team in the NHL, and a team that has a better road record than home mark.

When Chicago faces the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Tuesday night, it will feature two teams headed in different directions. The Blackhawks are reportedly looking to add pieces to anchor a title run, while the Avalanche are rumored to be considering breaking up their core.

The trade talk has weighed on the Avalanche players after a stretch in which they’ve gone 4-18-1 and have just 27 points at the halfway mark.

“You look at where we are in the standings and there’s obviously lots of speculation and rumors going around about our team, so that’s tough for the players to deal with, I think, at times,” coach Jared Bednar told HockeyBuzz.com. “They’re hearing different rumors every day, and you’re trying to keep them focused and concentrating at the task at hand and understanding that they just have to continue to go and play, and that it’s out of their control, I think is the most important thing that we can try and do as a staff.”

The first trade was made Friday when Colorado (13-27-1) dealt fourth-line enforcer Cody McLeod to Nashville. The next day McLeod scored a goal against his former team in a 3-2 Predators win.

The trade rumors surround Colorado’s young core and anyone else who could offer some cap relief. The only ones not available are 21-year-old Nathan MacKinnon and 20-year-old Mikko Rantanen.

If general manager Joe Sakic is able to move veterans such as Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Tyson Barrie, it will pave the way for prospects and give Colorado much-needed cap room.

“We do know going forward that we’ve got to get younger and faster,” Sakic told ESPN.com. “We’ve had conversations (with other teams) about our players. I want to do what’s best for the organization long term.”

Chicago (27-14-5) is on a two-game skid with both losses coming to the top teams in each conference. The Blackhawks aren’t panicking after losses to the Washington Capitals and the Wild, especially with the experience and talent in their locker room.

“The game (against the Capitals) was kind of like a shock to the system thinking maybe you’re one of the top teams in the league … and we obviously got thoroughly outplayed,” Kane told the Chicago Tribune. “We came back (Sunday). We just didn’t pull it out, but (when) you played two of the better teams in the league and (lost), there’s got to be room for improvement, right?”

The Blackhawks will talk to teams to try to bolster their top two lines. Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa haven’t produced like they have in seasons past so adding a left winger could help their games.

Until then, a game against a team that has bottomed out is a quick fix. The Avalanche are 5-15-1 at home, a place where they have lost 12 of 13. That bodes well for Chicago, which is trying to rebound from two disappointing losses.