This week, we asked Chicago Blackhawks fans what questions they had about the team as we enter the final ten games of the season. You asked and we answered. Here is the latest edition of the Blackhawk Up Mailbag.
*all stats are from Hockey Reference and Natural Stat Trick*
Hypothetical question. If Crawford plays the whole season and Colliton coaches, are the Chicago Blackhawks in a playoff position right now? – Jason (@1stlinegoon)
Truthfully, I have no idea. A lot of fans think they would for sure be in a playoff spot had the Chicago Blackhawks fired Joel Quenneville in the offseason and Corey Crawford not suffered another concussion. I’m not sold on that.
Before his injury on December 16, Crawford only had a .902 save percentage in all situations through 23 games played. His 5-on-5 save percentage wasn’t any much better (.903) and he looked shaky in a lot of the games he played in. He’s performed much better since his return from the most recent concussion, posting a .923 save percentage in all situations and a .943 (!!!) save percentage at 5-on-5. It looks like Crow has truly returned to the stud goalie he was prior to his first concussion.
It’s difficult to tell what a full season of Corey Crawford might look like because he didn’t perform like himself during that stretch of them when the Blackhawks continued to lose games.
The biggest factor that could’ve definitely pushed the Chicago Blackhawks into a playoff spot is switching coaches in the offseason. Based on how early on they fired Coach Q, it appears the front office desired for a coaching change. Implementing a whole new system in the offseason gives the coaching staff the upside of figuring out how they want to evaluate players in training camp, as well as deciding how their system might work. Relieving most of the staff just 12 games into the season doesn’t benefit anyone. And it’s clear Jeremy Colliton struggled to get the entire team to acclimate to his system.
I would love to believe the Blackhawks might be in a playoff spot had things gone differently. The good news is our eyes have clearly noticed how terrible our defense is, and the front office has taken notice, too. Sometimes, things happen for a reason.
How would you rate Jeremy Colliton? Can he coach the Blackhawks to another Cup? – Paul (@mrpchvz)
We’ll rate Colliton’s overall performance once the season ends and we do our player and coaching staff ratings, but I think he’s done a fairly good job with the players he has.
He’s more open to putting Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews together, which Joel Quenneville did so rarely that everyone just believed they didn’t perform well on the same line as they did early on in their careers. Their possession stats are…not good, but neither is the rest of the team’s numbers. The chemistry they have is obvious every time they’re on the ice.
Additionally, he and the coaching staff have somehow repaired the power play we never thought would be good again. In the first 36 games of the season, the Chicago Blackhawks had the second-worst power play in the league. A 12.0% conversion rate is simply unacceptable. In the 36 games since then, the team’s 29.9% conversion rate is the best in the NHL. That’s almost 3% better than the team with the second-best power play since December 19: the Tampa Bay Lightning
He seems to have the respect of all the players on the roster despite being just 34 years old, which is extremely important. The team bought into his mindset and his system. We’ve clearly seen the changes in how they almost never give up, no matter what the score of the game is. The organization wouldn’t have chosen him had they not had enormous faith in what he has to offer behind the bench.
His one downfall might be his claim that the seven defensemen they have on the current roster are the best when asked about Henri Jokiharju staying up after his emergency recall. I’d rather have him in the lineup over Gustav Forsling every night, that’s for sure.
As for him possibly coaching the Chicago Blackhawks to another Stanley Cup, I’d like to think he can. It’s difficult to base a small sample size of 57 games coached on whether or not he can lead the team to another Cup. The organization as a whole has to make changes that will allow Jeremy Colliton the flexibility to do what he can to make this team as successful as possible.