Consistency is Key for the Chicago Blackhawks Success
By Jeremiah Lee
With the season coming to an expected end at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights, the Chicago Blackhawks need to focus on the consistency of their lines.
In the 2020-21 Chicago Blackhawks’ season, I would always find Jeremy Colliton trying to shake up his lines to “make an impact”. I think this maybe worked once with the Drake Cagguila, Ryan Carpenter, and Matthew Highmore line. Other than that, these players could not develop any chemistry as the lines looked to be changing every night, or at least every game.
Now, loading up with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane I can understand, but these two are experienced superstars who know how to play the game and can play with anyone. The Chicago Blackhawks from 2009-2017 would have the benefit of changing lines in-game with the veterans who were able to adapt to new line-mates right when they step on the ice.
Unfortunately, the ‘Hawks cannot do this anymore with the young team they possess. The prospects should be able to start doing this once they get situated and adapt to the league first, but this can’t happen right away.
I get that Jeremy Colliton is trying to shake up his lines to make an impact on the game in an attempt to sway the momentum in his favor, but this barely works. Every other time the team looks out of place. The chemistry Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin showed in 2015-17 was amazing. Kane and Panarin would play catch until either one of them would get a SOG. Look back at this video as a reference to their amazing teamwork (it may be painful to watch, though).
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The lines I mentioned in my first article should stay together for at least five games. I feel like the players on those lines would work the best in regards to their playstyles: skill with skill, grit with grit. Each line needs an identity. Sure, Bryan Bickell was playing with Kane and Brad Richards, but Bickell knew his role.
Each of the ‘Hawks need to look back at the season, know what went wrong, and find their role as fast as possible to make an impact in the next season. If your role is to be a grinder then be a grinder. If you’re a superstar who is supposed to make something happen, then make something happen, and focus on that. When you have players who know their role and play that way consistently, then maybe line shuffling can work.
If the lines don’t work, then you can shuffle the players around for that “perfect fit”. After witnessing Alex Debrincat on the THIRD LINE, Colliton really has to stop with his line shuffling and understand his players.
Sure, during the ‘Hawks’ dynasty, sniper Patrick Sharp was on a third line, but that was when the ‘Hawks were stacked with talent. The “third line” was Sharp – Antoine Vermette – Teuvo Teravainen so, in this case, that was fine since these three players were fully capable of providing offense with their skillful playstyle meshing well. The 2020-21 ‘Hawks are not a stacked team, so I do not see any instance where Debrincat should end up anywhere outside the top six.
With an unproven team coming up for the Chicago Blackhawks, each player has to pinpoint what they are good at, and Jeremy Colliton has to deploy them to play to those strengths. He doesn’t have to only deploy them to play to their strengths, but he has to match those players who play similar playstyles. Young players need to find their identity and learn how to play with their linemates. They can’t do this if they only play with a set of players for only two shifts.