After beginning the season with the worst start in Blackhawks history at 0-7-2 through the first nine games of the season, the Blackhawks have made some big organizational adjustments, as well as some minor tweaks in the team on the way to a three game win streak. There have been many contributing factors to this glimpse of hope amongst Blackhawks fans as a result of their tremendous play since the firing of Jeremy Colliton.
It was clear and obvious that things weren’t working out with Jeremy Colliton behind the bench. He had great relationships with the players and other coaches, but his on-ice product was very poor to say the least. While he never got a full season of coaching in due to various reasons, it became extremely obvious that his time in Chicago would be short lived.
Since the firing, Rockford Icehogs head coach Derek King has stepped in and done a masterful job to this point. In his first three games as interim head coach, the Blackhawks are 3-0-0 and have looked like a brand new team. It feels like the team needed a change behind the bench in order to hopefully reach their full potential.
Derek King is a very likable guy, and it has been a joy to listen to him in his interviews and hear about how he is getting acclimated to this new role within the organization. His presence, along with the style of play he preaches, has paid massive benefits to the entire team. The team feels more connected in all facets of the game.
The biggest difference that I have noticed in this three game stretch is the new line combinations that have been working phenomenally so far. Colliton seemed like he had no idea how to make a lineup and it felt like he was just pushing all the wrong buttons.
King has made the top two forward lines completely different, and it has been paying off tremendously. The Debrincat-Dach-Kane line looks like it can be one of the most dangerous in the league as the season goes on, and the Kubalik-Toews-Khaira line has been fantastic as well, while not necessarily filling up the stat sheet.
While under Colliton, it seemed as if the team had no idea about the concept of team defense. That completely changed when Derek King took over just a couple weeks ago. The new top pairing of Seth Jones and Jake McCabe has been outstanding and look like they could be a dangerous pairing going forward. The rest of the defense has also seen a shake up and has led to a better team effort as a result.
If the lineup can consistently perform like they have over this stretch, this team can be super fun to watch and should get back in the mix for the playoffs soon.