Chicago Blackhawks Coach Colliton Speaks the Truth
By Stephen Yatsushiro
So what words do the pictures say?
From these charts, we are seeing a team that is playing soft. Some may say the team suffers from bad puck luck. But puck luck can only account for so much. Good teams create their own luck by driving the play. If we look at a chart of the individual players’ shots for and against, we can see who is driving the play and who is chasing the play.
Courtesy of Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath)
Here we see that the bottom-six forwards are the ones who were driving the play, while the new line of Alex DeBrincat–Dylan Strome–Patrick Kane struggled to control the play. This is an upside-down world where the forwards with fewer minutes played are the more effective players. The third line was very noticeable with their straight ahead play and intensity. The fourth line also tilted the ice the right way, although Artem Anisimov‘s goal came when he was reunited with Kane and DeBrincat. The effectiveness of the bottom-six forwards is further illustrated by their actual scoring output in the next chart.
This is a nice visual of the plus/minus statistic. Surely we would like to see more blue dots from the top-six forwards. The reason for the lopsided results is a lack of penetration by the top-six forwards, and especially from the Strome line. Coming into the game, the ‘Hawks were trending overall as a team with little penetration, and they were consistent against the Jets.
The truth shall set you free, or really hurt your feelings
The truth is that the ‘Hawks are playing soft offensively. For all the fast pace, they have nothing to show for it. As Shakespeare wrote, “the sound and fury signifying nothing”. If the ‘Hawks want to start ramping up their game, they need to ramp up their will to win. The famous “compete level” needs to start from the opening puck drop. It’s entertaining to watch their “Harlem Globetrotters” cycling of the puck, but it’s more entertaining to see pucks enter the net. It’s the reverse in their own end. Watching them chase the play in their own zone is purely aggravating.
The disturbing statistic is that they have given up the most goals of any NHL team in the first period. And that brings us once again to the topic of the defense.