1. Work Ethic on Form
This Blackhawks team is trending in the right direction. They are making it tough on the opposition while maintaining an effective offense and a responsible defense. What stood out to me was their competitiveness last night and the focus on finishing their checks. It was not easy for the Predators to enter the zone as the Blackhawks play ahead of the puck and a defender or a back checker would throw a hit at them if they try a chip-and-chase play.
It was satisfying to watch last night’s game as they all looked engaged, ready to play. No one looked out of it and Jake McCabe looked much better than he was just two months ago. The defense did much better, keeping the Preds to 21 SOG. This is completely surprising as they would give up over 30 on a nightly basis. No one looked lazy on coverages and stayed exactly where they needed to be. This wasn’t common before, as the defense would look to be asleep all the time.
This work ethic is the recipe for success. They now have the work ethic and have a grasp on the systems that make them effective.
2. Entertaining Hockey is Back
This is a needed takeaway for obvious reasons.
Not too long ago, this team was losing games… But lost them in a snooze fest. They were not “responsible” with their checks but instead ended up getting lost in coverage. Jeremy Colliton’s systems ended up putting both fans AND players to sleep, and this, thankfully was a drastic change. This team had so many chances last night, it was hard to keep track of (and I did not keep track of it after the first ten minutes). When they had a rush play, they didn’t chip-and-chase, they kept the puck for a potential one-time play instead of a “crash the net”.
This system allows Patrick Kane, Alex Debrincat, Kirby Dach, and all the firepower the Blackhawks possess to play to their strengths. Seth Jones is playing much better as of late, and his contributions on offense are aiding this team as he is picking up his defensive awareness. I really hope that this will be a constant from this point onward, this was the most entertaining game in a long time.