The Chicago Blackhawks’ struggles began after what appeared to be a promising beginning to the season. They were expected to be a lot better than the team that finished out of the NHL playoffs for the second straight season last year. Changes were made to the roster in the off-season that was supposed to bring the franchise back into contention in the Western Conference.
Their defense and goaltending were addressed and they also added some grit to the lineup. There were positive signs that they had turned the corner as a franchise. Unfortunately, the games have to be played and won to show positive results.
Chicago Blackhawks Struggles
Two areas affecting the Blackhawks’ struggles are the performance of the players and coaching. We are going to look at the players involved and the head coach.
Blackhawks Struggles – The Players
The players have struggled to find consistency so far this season. In many games, they have looked like potential Stanley Cup contenders, however, in others, they look like the bottom feeders of the league. This is also true during games where they dominate their opponent and then take several shifts or even an entire period off during the game.
It is also frustrating to watch the team get overwhelmed and spend an entire shift in their own zone several times a game. Their lack of puck possession can go on for what seems like an eternity some nights. This has put enormous pressure on the goalies every game. Luckily for the Blackhawks, Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner have been very solid in net. If not, the team’s record would be far worse than the current 5-7-3, which has them eight points out of a playoff spot.
Blackhawks Players Reaction
Watching the players’ reactions often shows their dissatisfaction on the ice. They are obviously irritated and not happy. For a look at the frustrations that the players are feeling check this out from Charlie Roumeliotis of nbcsports.com:
“There’s situations where we have momentum and we just find ways to let it go,” Toews said. “Whether it’s just letting teams forecheck on our D-men, not being available for our D-man, not finding ways to get pucks out of the zone where we can get possession or get some rushes or at least find ways to get numbers down where we’re dumping the puck in their zone. If we get it out of our zone, they just turn it right back, fire it right back in. We’re spending all our time in our own zone, so it gets tiring.”
Those words from captain Jonathan Toews show exactly what they feel during their rough patches. It is going to take his leadership to get the team heading in the right direction. Luckily he has several team elders who can also step up in the locker room to help motivate the team. The players will need to come together and improve their play.
Blackhawks Struggles – The Coach
Jeremy Colliton was put in an unenviable situation a year ago. He was hired after the firing of Joel Quenneville who had his issues with Stan Bowman’s rosters the past few seasons. “Coach Q” had won three Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks and was an institution in Chicago and the NHL. Q’s popularity with the players on the team was also well known. Colliton is in a tough position. He needs to convince the veteran leaders on the Blackhawks to buy into his style and systems despite his inexperience and replacing a widely popular figure in the city and team.
What Colliton had going for him was his ability to develop younger players while coaching in Sweden. This was the main reason Stan Bowman hired him to coach the Rockford Ice Hogs of the AHL. Unfortunately due to Bowman’s rash decision to fire Quenneville, Colliton was thrust into a no-win situation at the NHL level.
Now the Blackhawks struggles have put the focus directly on Colliton. His ability to develop younger players has not panned out as well with the Blackhawks. For more on the Blackhawks struggles for Jeremy Colliton check this out also from Charlie Roumeliotis of nbcsports.com:
“This is the year the Blackhawks were supposed to build things back up after missing the playoffs for two consecutive seasons. Internally, they expected to make the playoffs after retooling on the fly.”
“Instead, the Blackhawks have regressed under Colliton and there are even more questions than answers from when he took over behind the bench exactly one year ago.”
Colliton On Thin Ice?
The hiring of assistant coach Marc Crawford this summer was heralded as “adding an experienced voice” on the bench to help a young coaching staff. What it really appears like is an insurance policy for Stan Bowman in case the Blackhawks opened the season poorly.
The beleaguered general manager spent his off-season making numerous moves to rebuild the franchise back into contention. These moves reflected a desperate general manager looking to keep his job. Marc Crawford‘s hiring conveniently gives Bowman the perfect experienced candidate to take over as head coach if needed. As a team, the Blackhawks must know they had better start showing signs of improvement in the near future. If not, they may cost coach Jeremy Colliton his job.
Blackhawks Moving Forward
The 2019-20 NHL season is still young. The Blackhawks have the opportunity to get it together over the next month or so. Hopefully, they do not wait too long to show signs of life like last season.
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