Jeremy Colliton does not have the easiest job in hockey this season. After coaching a rebuilding team the past few seasons, this year is different as the Blackhawks are in a position to be better than in years past.
With that expectation comes pressure on a head coach to see success. What does that mean for Colliton and the Blackhawks?
The Blackhawks are not favored to win the Stanley Cup, or their first game of the season according to WynnBET. But they should make the postseason and play better hockey than in years past. This roster got drastically redone the past few years to the point where now Jeremy Colliton is going to have his work cut out for him.
Let’s go over some expectations on the coach this season:
1 Improved Special Teams
Last season the Blackhawks’ power play was average while their penalty kill was a little below average, the year before that it was flipped. The big thing the team struggled with last season was being consistent with their special teams.
They had a few games where their penalty kill was hot then a few games where they just could not stop anything. Yes, the way the schedule was set up might explain the hot and cold feeling on the special teams’ units, but this season will feature a lot of new faces for Colliton to work with.
Being great on special teams is not everything in this league, but it makes a difference in the postseason and in close games. Chicago needs all the advantages they can get so one of the big things that will need to occur this season is an improved look on the special teams.
2 Juggling In Good Form
Colliton has a lot of young guys he will need to juggle in and out of the lineup for the future of this team. He needs to make sure Lankinen gets some chances even though the team has a hall of fame goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury. He needs to decide who stays up and who goes down amongst the team’s crowded young blue line. And whoever does stay up in the NHL will need to get some chances.
He also needs to put together a puzzle with too many pieces that are going to fit together on the team’s forward lineup. Only 12 players can put their jersey on each night amongst the forward group and there are a few more than 12 guys considered for the spot.
I called this a juggling act because everyone that Colliton chooses to send down to the AHL might be needed later in the season, and making sure those young guys are developing and becoming the best player they can be is also pretty important.
3 Winning The Big Games
Last season the Blackhawks would win a lot of games against weak opponents, and some against opponents when they were heavily slept on to win. But last season during the “big” games when there were expectations to win in order to maintain a position in the standings or help generate momentum, they failed on most occasions.
This season is not going to have eight games against the Red Wings. Chicago is going to need to win against opponents that are tough and hard to play against. Teams like St. Louis and Colorado are not going to be the team’s easiest opponent, but getting the team ready to play and starting the game on the right note is going to be a big expectation for this team.
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Chicago scored first 27 times last season. That number is not horrible, but they can be better. This season starting the game on time and getting the first goal needs to be an emphasis as they played without a lead a lot last season and it did not work out well.
The season is right around the corner!