The Chicago Blackhawks open the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Tampa Bay lost a few members of their Stanley Cup-winning roster, but their core is still very much so intact with Steven Stamkos and Braydon Point leading the offense with Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh in manning the D and Andrei Vasilevskiy in the net.
Their depth is still intact (for the most part) from last season’s Stanley Cup-winning team as well. The Chicago Blackhawks lost Jonathan Toews and Kirby Dach for the season so they will be shorthanded.
I personally think that the Chicago Blackhawks just have to try to stay even with the Lightning. Play smart, deploy a zone defensive system against them and try to keep shots to a minimum through keeping your stick in passing lanes and blocking shots.
The Lightning are, to no one’s surprise, still a much better than the Blackhawks in every aspect of their team. They can take advantage of mistakes made in any zone and punish you with odd-man rushes or, I don’t know, missing assignments and leaving someone like Steven Stamkos open in the slot for an open SOG.
The Blackhawks also just have to have people back in their own zone.
Based on the broadcast of the Blackhawks’ scrimmage, I think Colliton is deploying a 2-1-2 forecheck. Either that or a 2-3 forecheck or a 2-2-1 forecheck (It was hard to tell, three players were missing from the frame). I personally think they should have a 2-1-2 forecheck. Someone is always in the defensive zone while you keep pressure on the puck carrier. The forward can also drop back to start a 1-2 defensive positioning against the rush.
The Blackhawks just need people back in their own zone, that’s the bottom line. The goaltenders look shaky against shots from their own teammates. That’s a bad sign, and defensive formations and systems have to be changed to make sure the ‘Hawks don’t get blown out every game.
Whatever the ‘Hawks have planned, I hope it works when the puck drops on January 13.