Saturday, November 23, 2019

Will Result of Crucial 5-game Stretch Be End For Colliton?

By Randy Holndoner: @bhawkschatter

The Chicago Blackhawks find themselves in the beginning of a crucial five game stretch, where they play the Dallas Stars twice, Colorado Avalanche twice, and the Stanley Cup Champion, St. Louis Blues.

They are 6 points behind both, Dallas, and Colorado.  Definitely a chance to gain some ground on the top 3 teams in the division.  Now if only they could be led to do so.

After a horrid 3-6-1 start, being capped with a pathetic 3-0, loss to the Nashville Predators, they have since bounced back with a 6-1-2 stretch, prior to their last two home games, which they have lost.

Needless to say, inconsistency still is a factor for a team trying to find themselves under the sleepwalking guidance of Jeremy Colliton.  

The slow start in which Colliton stated that a more 'defensive-minded approach' was trying to be established, obviously did not work, by giving up nearly 40 shots a game during that stretch.  That 'approach', ended in a 3-0 loss, to the Predators, which was arguably the worst game the Blackhawks played in 20 years, and the best game Robin Lehner has played in his career.

Since then, Colliton has allowed the run-and-gun offense to take over, which sparked the latest stretch of wins.  It took a month for Colliton to put stars Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome together on a line, but according to Colliton, "'s not about the combos".  Yeah, okay.

The latest head-scratcher was dressing seven defensemen against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night, a team that won 62 games last year.  Dressing seven defensemen rarely turns out to be a good thing, and it wasn't Thursday as the Hawks lost, 4-2.

Was Colliton giving bench-warmer, Slater Koekkoek a chance to 'shine' against his old team?  If so, that failed miserably as Koekkoek played just 11 shifts, 8:14, with two giveaways.  Take THAT, Tampa!  Koekkoek has been a healthy scratch for nearly half the games this year.

Even when asked, Captain Jonathan Toews was puzzled as to why they would dress seven defensemen, when the lines that were playing were starting to gel.

Depending on what shenanigans Colliton brings in the next five games, one would think, or HOPE, SOMEONE from the upper brass of the Blachawks would say enough is enough.

Many thought Colliton would have been gone after the opening 7-game homestand, which they went 2-3-2.  One would want to get off to a good start, right?  Nah.

Maybe when it was during that stretch when they scored three goals in five games?  Nah.  The season is still young!

The last two home games were not stellar by any means.  Top it off with Toews telling the press to speak to the coaches as to why they dressed seven defensemen, you have to wonder when Colliton lost this team.  Because he clearly has.

How many lives is Colliton allowed to have?  Or for Stan Bowman for that matter for not axing Colliton sooner?  Blackhawks President, John McDonough, or Blackhawks owner, Rocky Wirtz, need to step in if this is allowed to continue,  

The motto, "One Goal" is failing to capture what this team is about anymore.

It's not the team that is bad.  This team's roster consists of ten, first round draft picks.  the talent is there.

This team missed the playoffs by a mere 6 points, or 3 games.  One could argue that the first MONTH, was wasted already, along with the reasoning to dress seven defensemen.  There are no games to waste.

Enough is enough.  Colliton should have been gone, LONG ago, especially with Marc Crawford, a 16-year NHL Head Coach, with 556 wins, and a Stanley Cup under his coaching belt, standing 5 feet away.

Was he not brought in to give Colliton notice that a fast start was important this year?  Maybe not, but Blackhawk fans are growing very impatient for this delay in turning this team around that has not made the playoffs since 2015.

This five game stretch may finally tell the tale, if things go bad.


Monday, October 21, 2019

Dach's Debut, Not Special, Future Plans?

By Randy Holndoner - @Bhawkschatter

Kirby Dach had his NHL debut Sunday night against the Washington Capitals.  It wasn't a flashy effort, and the Blackhawks lost, 5-3.

The Blackhawks' centers are: Jonathan Toews, Dylan Strome, David Kampf, and Ryan Carpenter.  If you wanted to, you could add Andrew Shaw and Zack Smith to the mix. A strong group of centers.  One would question, is it really necessary to have the 18-year old, up with the NHL club, at this time, as he learns the system.

Yes, it is good experience for him.  Yes, it was a feel good moment in which his parents and sister were present at the game.  It wasn't good that the Hawks lost a game in which they had gathered 5 points out of their last 6.  

They had built momentum over those last few games.  Lines were starting to gel and play with consistency.  Then Dach is thrusted into centering a line between Strome and Kane.

The lines prior to Sunday night, seemed to be set.  Other than the argument that could be Kane should be with Toews, and DeBrincat should be with Strome, why introduce Dach at this point?

Many teams give 10 games to potential rookies to get some experience with the big team and that is fine and good.  The problem with that, is that it can wind up hurting a team that hasn't made the playoffs for a number of years.  Those ten games, are nearly 10% of the season, with a potential of 20 points.

After one game, you can't jump to conclusions, but the Blackkhawks, and the upper brass, are hungry to get back to the playoffs.  Toews and Patrick Kane are in their prime.  Time is running out on aging stars, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and Corey Crawford.

Does Stan Bowman have the time to allow another season to slip by without another playoff appearance?  Keep this in mind.  Last year, the Blackhawks missed the playoffs by six points.