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Blackhawks: There are Still Problems with the Defense

Apr 23, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen (92) reacts after scoring a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen (92) reacts after scoring a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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The Blackhawks renovated their defense this past offseason, but something still stands out as a problem.

The Blackhawks are down the right path: acquiring a (hopeful) elite defenseman via trade-in Seth Jones, and adding another professional defenseman for the second pair in Jake McCabe. Now, the top-four defensemen slots are filled by proven NHLers. But, the question stands… Are they good enough?

See, the Blackhawks last season were criticized for the lack of defense but, in my opinion, it’s not the players’ fault. They were really not that bad on paper and, with a good coach, they wouldn’t have looked as bad as they did. Now, we look at an improved list:

Calvin de Haan – Seth Jones 

Jake McCabe – Connor Murphy

Riley Stillman/Caleb Jones – Wyatt Kalynuk

This is already much better than last season, but there is still a giant problem on the defense. It is not an aging number one defenseman, nor is it a line-up of youngsters.

The problem? The defense coach.

Sheldon Brookbank wasn’t the best player in the NHL, but he did his job properly. However, the defense scheme for the Blackhawks just were not what the players were good at. When you have Nikita Zadorov constantly gliding away from the net… That’s a quick red flag. Stan Bowman didn’t watch last season if he thinks this current coaching staff (minus, again, Marc Crawford) can lead the new Blackhawks to the Playoffs.

First things first, leave the stay-at-home defensemen AT HOME: the net. Stop having the defensemen float around in the zone, and, honestly, the new defense corps probably won’t listen to Brookbank anyway. They know how to defend, and they will do what they think is better. That’s just what veterans do.

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Second, incorporate a proper system zone system for the defense, where they stay by and protect the net in the defensive zone. Something I, and I’m sure many other fans have, noticed is how often the Blackhawks leave the slot wide open. Then, there is a ton of open space when someone loses their assignment. After a failed system for going on four seasons, Colliton, and Brookbank, have to change things.

If not? The team won’t be going anywhere.

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