The Chicago Blackhawks have a huge undertaking if they want to make the playoffs this coming season.
The Chicago Blackhawks are currently seen as a small, fast, offensively threatening team with a pair of goaltenders who can steal them wins. They are also known as a small team that lacks a solid system. Here are three things they need to focus on and change if they want to be among the potential five Central division teams to qualify for the playoffs.
Establish a Defensive System
They first need to address their defense, which should have been much better than they were. They need to establish a proper system where the defensemen make sure that they are around the net, not floating through the point or the slot. The forwards have to make sure that if the defensemen are caught up in a board battle, that they cover the front of the net.
This team is too inexperienced to run a man-to-man system, and they should stop it. They look to have established a hybrid of that system, but they still allowed 50 SOG in their OT loss to the Dallas Stars. Their goaltender cannot be their only layer of defense as the Colorado Avalanche are on their way back to the division.
If the Blackhawks cannot effectively defend, they will be utterly demolished by the Central Division next year, plain and simple. Even if Kevin Lankinen, Collin Delia, and/or Arvid Soderblom are top-ten goaltenders, the team cannot really succeed if they don’t solve their defensive woes.
Regardless of size, the Blackhawks still have to play a gritty game to find success against teams like Vegas and the Islanders. They are not a big team, but they should still get down to business and make life hard for the opposition with relentless, smart forechecking. Regardless of the score, if there’s time on the clock, I would like to see this team play like the game was tied, whether the Blackhawks are up 4-0 or down by 5.
Something they didn’t do was establish pressure on the forecheck to deny any break-out plays. The opposition would make one stretch pass through the conservative 1-2-2 the Blackhawks ran. I would like to see a 2-1-2 forecheck where the forwards, usually the wingers, crash the defensemen and the center stays by the blueline for a potential takeaway, or backcheck to defend the rush play.
Why is this needed? Because if the Blackhawks lay back and let the opposition find open passes and potential cross-ice plays, the goaltenders will be screwed, regardless of who’s in net. They can’t let the opposition feel comfortable with the puck at any time in the game.