A lacking coaching staff makes a good team on paper into a mediocre one on ice like the Blackhawks.
Patrick Kane needs help on offense, and the Blackhawks are not doing that great of a job in giving him the help he needs. Yes, he has Alex Debrincat‘s 44 points, but that’s honestly about it. The next highest point total is Dominik Kubalik with 29. Yeah, that’s a steep drop-off. Kirby Dach could be a monster when he gets a full training camp, but the Blackhawks should just rest him for the rest of the season as a precautionary measure. That doesn’t help Kane at all.
The defense has been underwhelming since the departure of Joel Quenneville (who’s surprised with that outcome?) and that doesn’t look like a pattern that will end any time soon. Kane can contribute three points a night whenever he can, but that can only do so much if the defense continues to let up and allow four-plus goals per game.
The goaltending has been pretty good (considering the defense that is playing in front of them), with a combined 0.912 save percentage. Kevin Lankinen and Malcolm Subban both have been lights out on some nights, but now both of them look to struggle with inconsistency, not just Subban.
This team looks great on paper, and could even make a run if they played consistently. They were able to play with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers, heck, they even beat the top three teams earlier in the season. But they can’t do anything when their coach is outsmarted in what looks like every game as of late.
Jeremy Colliton continues to get outcoached after his system is dissected and solved. His team, despite looking great on paper, struggled against the worst teams in the league’s standings. I’m sorry, but if you’re trying to compete for a playoff position, a one-goal win over the 27th ranked Blue Jackets or 26th ranked Red Wings is something to be upset with, not happy about.
Colliton has been called a “coach to watch” from his time in the AHL, leading the IceHogs on a surprising stretch in the Calder Cup playoffs. His mind and teaching ability is what prompted the Blackhawks (more like Stan Bowman) to hire him in the first place:
(via Sean Leahy of NBCSports) You can read this article here.
"“Jeremy has shown an innate ability to develop young talent throughout his two seasons as head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks,” said GM Stan Bowman. “This, coupled with his vast knowledge of the game, exceptional communication skills and determination to win, makes us extremely confident Jeremy has what it takes to lead our team back to an elite level as we continue to build a roster that can compete year in and year out.”"
- “… Determination to win”
- “Vast knowledge of the game”
- “… Has what it takes to lead our team back to an elite level”
The past finishes in the standings since Colliton’s hiring since November 2018 have been:
- 82 games played – 36-34-12 – 84 points
- 20th place missed playoffs
- 70 games played – 32-30-8 – 72 points
- 23rd place, Won Play-In vs EDM 3-1, Lost First Round vs VGK 4-1 (they were dominated in this series)
- 46 games played – 21-20-5 – 47 points
- 19th place (probably going to drop), most likely Missed Playoffs
The inconsistency from the team is placed solely on the coaching staff, and they need to drastically improve before the Blackhawks can even hope to MAKE the playoffs, much more so to compete in the playoffs. The only consistent thing thus far have been bottom-of-the-pack finishes.
Colliton did have great systems before, from his 2-1-2 aggressive forecheck to his team playing a fast, relentless game that brought them a long win streak. They had a stretch of consistent, sound hockey in February where they held the fourth seed quite comfortably. Then, well, the Month of Death happened and they are now in sixth place in the standings.
To win in the playoffs, a team will need to make key adjustments as you play the same team a minimum of four times. The opposing coach will try to find ways to counter your strategy. It is up to Colliton to make adjustments to help the team. He is still relatively young as a coach, so maybe time is all he needs… But Patrick Kane is in his prime. He has to improve, as does the rest of the coaching staff, or get fired.
"Are the Blackhawks better or worse than last season?"
Here’s to hoping he’ll prove me wrong tonight and make the necessary adjustments to beat Nashville for the first time.
Next Game: Blackhawks vs Predators. Tonight. NBCSN, 6:00 PM CST