Analysis

First Period Woes lead to Further Worries for Blackhawks

Kevin Lankinen #32, Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Lankinen #32, Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /
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Three games into the season, the Blackhawks are 0-2-1, setting records in the worst way.

Blackhawks vs Devils, opening faceoff. Everyone is looking forward to a strong bounce back against a middle-tier team after a loss to a Stanley Cup contender. That did not materialize, and the Blackhawks allowed a goal within 17 seconds. The goal scorer? Dougie Hamilton, signed for 9 million dollars for 7 years. On the other side? Seth Jones, 9.5 mil for 8 years (yes, I’m beating a dead horse by this point but seriously, horrible contract).

This Blackhawks team has been really bad to start out in the last few games, giving up a goal in the last two games, 15 vs Pittsburgh, and 17 vs New Jersey. This team would then give up three more goals within 12 minutes, yanking Marc-Andre Fleury from the net. This cannot continue if this team wants to (surprise) make the playoffs.

Stan Bowman has asked for patience to start the season as many people, myself included, expected a drastic change in quality of play. This did not materialize either as the “strategy” is the same as it was last year. The only difference is the more expensive names on the back of the jerseys. Jeremy Colliton has not done anything yet while Marc Crawford carries the team. When n assistant carries the team just because he can properly deploy talent like Patrick Kane, Alex Debrincat, and Jonathan Toews, he should be promoted to head coach, no?

Even strength play has not been up to par either. In the first period, this team would not establish any zone time and would continue to mess up defensive assignments and coverage. They are slow to shoot and would rather make a pretty play, like Calvin de Haan passing the puck instead of shooting with a wide open lane. Then there’s Seth Jones who passes instead of taking the open ice on the powerplay, only to turnover the puck. This team has to get more SOG and find more ways to generate even-strength chances. As things are getting urgent,  placing traffic at the front of the net and just flinging the puck towards it, hoping for a tip or pinball play, would suffice.

By this point Colliton shouldn’t be trying to shove a square peg through a circular hole like a stubborn toddler, but here we are. Unless he shows some improvement by game fifteen, he should be given the boot. If Joel Quenneville can be fired after making a tanking team go 6-6-3, then Colliton can be fired for going 5-9-1 with a contender on paper.

In all, this team has a lot of work and, on paper, should be much better than the 0-2-1 record over three games. At least beat the Devils in regulation and make the game against the Avalanche and Penguins competitive. Stan Bowman has asked fans to be patient with the roster, but patience may be dwindling as the Blackhawks approach a potential 0-4-1 record during the homestand.

On the bright side, Alex Debrincat has gotten his chances, and Kirby Dach has two goals in two games. This team has to capitalize on further chances in order to jumpstart their confidence and success. Their penalty kill is at 100%, and the powerplay at 36.3%, carrying the team from even worse results. The Blackhawks need to get going fast or this will be a long season for everyone.

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