The Chicago Blackhawks’ last two games have not been great, and after the success the team had against the Florida Panthers, they now find themselves on the outside looking into the playoffs, something that is new for the team this season.
Chicago has had the fourth spot locked in the Central Division since February. During February, the team’s great play secured them that final spot, but an overall record of 3-7-0 in their last ten games is making the playoffs look like a dream now.
Nashville is getting hot at the right time, Dallas is still a real threat, and the Blue Jackets might be the worst nightmare scenario for Tampa Bay, knowing what happened a few years ago. As a Blackhawks fan, I wanted to hope this team would get into the playoffs, but that is just not looking to be the reality anymore.
Chicago is just facing off against some better teams. They ran into two hot goalies in Juuse Saros and Pekka Rinne. As usual, Rinne was the best he has been all season against Chicago, and if it were not for Alex DeBrincat in the third period, they would have gotten a shutout against the team.
This little series reminded me of the 2017 playoff run Chicago gave up in the first round. Nashville looked better. The Predators are a good defensive team, and Chicago did not have an answer for them. Before their next matchup, there is one area I want to see the Hawks improve in.
The Blackhawks did not have an answer for the Predators, and in large part, that comes down to coaching.
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Jeremy Colliton is still learning, and that is fine. After the game, he spoke about the ups and downs and how the team is still in a good position due to how they played earlier in the year. However, he just dropped two must-win games – and not in a close fashion either it was a 2-0 game last night until DeBrincat turned things around on his own.
Colliton and the coaching staff need to decide on a lineup and stop changing it every few periods. When Joel Quenneville shook up the lines, it had a purpose and usually resulted in goals for Chicago. I am not seeing the same result right now with Colliton.
Why Kirby Dach is already averaging 20:43 minutes of ice time is an interesting move, to say the least. Yes, Dach is the best option at center, but in must-win games, spreading out the ice time a little more might be the better move.
Suter and DeBrincat have chemistry with Patrick Kane. I think we all would like to see a situation where Colliton can throw out three lines this season with Dach/Kane, Kubalik/Hagel, DeBrincat/Suter. I do not see that as a practical possibility right now. Dach was a minus-three on the night, and his two giveaways were not great, yes Nashville’s first two goals were lucky bounces, but at the end of the day, the team needs to be better.
Chicago has a day off before they face the Carolina Hurricanes tomorrow. Hopefully, the group is trying to wipe their memory of last night’s game and move forward with a fresh slate as they need to get back on track now, or otherwise, the playoffs will definitely be out of the picture.