Analysis

Urgency is Needed, but What is Going On with the Blackhawks’ Stars?

Patrick Kane #88, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Patrick Kane #88, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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This Blackhawks team should be dominating some games while staying competitive in many others. What is going on?

This Blackhawks team is now facing a situation: an 0-4-1 start to what was hyped to be a different year. They were trounced in Colorado and Pittsburgh, gave up the first goal within 17 seconds in their last two, and never found their game. This team is not a chip and chase team, they need to bring the puck into the zone and establish their positioning.

Instead, they chip the puck in, go on a heavy forecheck, only to give up an odd-man rush against within five seconds. As it looks now, they have no offensive scheme other than track-meet play. When they have the puck, they never shoot when they can, but always opt for the unnecessary pass for a one-time play that never develops.

On defense, their game is not much better. This team is dreadful on rush defense as they can never seem to get the coverage right. In the second goal of the game against Pittsburgh, the Blackhawks are too late back to defend, mess up coverage, and the Pens add a quick second goal to their total. On the first goal, Calvin de Haan was too aggressive on the pinch and allowed an odd-man chance again within fifteen seconds.

Their scheme is easily exploitable as their man system would leave open too much open ice. Luckily, they seem to have caught on and are now getting in the way of passing lanes for more shot blocks and takeaways than they have in a long time. Unfortunately, again, they are late to defend a potential second-chance play and give up either a high-risk chance or a goal. It’s one or the other.

What am I getting at here? The system is not allowing the Blackhawks’ stars to succeed and has to be changed IMMEDIATELY.

Yes, system changing is not an easy thing to do. But when you are where the Blackhawks stand now, urgent measures have to be taken. With a team of Patrick Kane, Alex Debrincat, Seth Jones, and Kirby Dach, you HAVE to carry the puck in to start the play. These guys do not like to chip and chase as their skill should be enough to start possession.

When Kane brings the puck in, Jones (or the other defenseman) should be at the boards on the side Kane entered. He would then take the pass and start the play, or cross-ice the puck to his partner if coverage is already set up. The center, hypothetically taller than 6’3″, will be the net-front presence. Looking for the play is the goal here, or if a tip-option opens up, just fling the puck at the heavy traffic.

This is one strategy they could go for, and this should be applied to the other two skill lines. The fourth line should chip and chase with a heavy forecheck, as that is what every fourth line does to be effective. They do not put up points but simply bring the energy and cause fits for the opposition, something the Blackhawks still do not do.

So, what is the problem with the Blackhawks’ stars and their production? The system is not using them right, forcing them to play in a manner that does not suit them at all. This team should have a ton of possession time with the players they have, but they get stifled then scored on within two minutes. This has to change, and Colliton has to know his guys and what they are good at, not what he wants them to be good at.

"Chicago Blackhawks might need a shakeup behind the bench"

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