The Chicago Blackhawks went on a run in February, only to lose their lead in the standings in less than one month.
The Chicago Blackhawks… Surged through the month of February, earning enough points to hold a relatively large lead over the likes of Columbus and Nashville in the standings. Everything was on point: Forecheck was great and generated chances for, their powerplay was lightyears ahead of the competition, and they were playing a good team game.
What happened? Well, March “The Month of Death” happened.
Going into the season, March was circled on the calendar for me. The Blackhawks would be challenged in every way possible as they would play three of the top five teams in the league 10 times. They would need their eight points from their games against Dallas and Nashville to maintain their position in the standings, something they couldn’t do.
Lack of “Relentlessness”
The 2-1-2 forecheck in February was a huge factor to the team’s “hard to play against” identity Jeremy Colliton wanted them to have. And they had it throughout the month, only to stop using it to start their “Month of Death”.
Since then, the opposition has had an easy time finding breakout passes and the Blackhawks did nothing to combat this for the first two weeks.
They also only played one game against the Florida Panthers in a 3-0 win where their physicality was on point. They made sure that the Florida Panthers were not comfortable with the puck the entire game, and Ryan Carpenter and Nikita Zadorov made big hits to shift the momentum.
In the two games against Nashville? Nothing. They struggled to counter Nashville’s aggressive forecheck and didn’t generate any pressure to start both nights. The Predators were too comfortable to start both games and the Blackhawks need to up the intensity to win in the Central Division.