It’s usually a bad trait to get overly defensive about situations, but in the ‘Hawks case, they need to find their defense. Game after game they’ve had defensive breakdowns that lead to goals. The offense can’t get going if the defense can’t get the puck out of the defensive zone. If Jeremy Colliton is serious about telling the team the truth, the players are going to hear a lot about this sore topic.
Basic fundamentals on defense are not being applied in their play, from both the forwards and defensemen. There has been a lot of overpursuit, double/triple coverage, and puck watching. These are the types of mistakes that players learn from as peewees and in juniors. This shouldn’t be a widespread problem at the NHL level. But here come the ‘Hawks.
While Stan Bowman has been concentrating on offensive tweaks by adding Strome and Brendan Perlini, he’s been neglecting the talent level on the defense. We looked at this sore topic at the end of last season. In a great analysis of the current situation, The Athletic’s Cory Sznajder breaks down the argument of player talent versus coaching system to account for the team’s woeful defense. As Jeremy Colliton leans more heavily on his veteran players, the worse this situation will become as the season progresses, unless the younger players start stepping up.
But, can the role players step up their play enough based upon their inherent skill sets? It will take time for Colliton’s systems to push out the bad habits of the past. The quick fix would be to reshape the roster, but again, at what cost? Stan Bowman has backed himself into a corner with his poorly constructed roster and self-inflicted salary cap issues. What he does next will indicate if he’s giving up on this season and rebuilding for the future.
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Another acid test comes tonight against the high-flying Nashville Predators. They bring a first place record of 17-8-1 into the game tonight, but a two-game losing streak as well. The ‘Hawks will have their hands full with a roster that can create chaos for the Chicago Blackhawks to defend against. Colliton is no longer looking for baby steps from his players, and tonight would be a good time for them to make one giant leap for Hawks-kind.