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Growing Pains

November 9, 2018, 9:28 AM ET [564 Comments]
Justin Lowe
Chicago Blackhawks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT

It wasn't the way he envisioned it, but Jeremy Colliton has his first NHL game under his belt regardless of the outcome.

The recent press conference had some conflicting messaging being tossed around by Rocky, John McDonough and Stan Bowman; we want to win now… but we know Jeremy is going to need some time… but we think we're a playoff team.

As we all know, JC (Jeremy Colliton) is in a real tough spot. He's got management thinking (and I think they are serious), that the current Chicago Blackhawks team is postseason worthy.

Well… most of us here and those around the league wouldn't bet the farm on that happening. This team is a bubble team at best as it's currently constructed.

Colliton has his work cut out for him and he's going to do all he can to get this team to be as competitive as possible. He is also very analytical and methodical with his teachings, so you can bet he's not going to throw everything at these guys after a couple practices.

With that being said, I don't want to hear anything about Colliton's "style not working" because to be honest, I don't think we will fully be able to evaluate his "style" for about 15+ games – maybe longer.

Hopefully, that above statement is maybe something that management is aware of.

After a terrible start and eventually going down 4-0 to the Hurricanes at one point last night, the overall feel I got from the team was that they were overthinking and trying to do too much for their new coach.

I honestly don't feel like it was (or ever is) a lack of effort.

You have a couple options as a player when working with a new coach – 1) you can work your butt off to show him what you're made of and you're on board with him being there and what he's preaching or 2) you can sit and pout in the corner.

Well, I can tell you that these are professionals I don't doubt for one second that anyone will fall into the second category.

So, what was I looking for last night?

I was looking for subtle changes to style but knew there wouldn't be much just yet. The main thing I noticed was the quicker transitions through the neutral zone. I thought the Hawks started well with moving the puck as quickly as they could (when there was an opening) and that is a testament to what JC wants to see.

I also looked at how JC used players in certain roles and the ice time as the game went on. Me thinks he likes Patrick Kane. What a way to win over your best player then by playing him 27+ mins.

How he uses his players in different situations will be easier to evaluate after a larger sample size (spoiler alert: Kane will not be playing 27+/game every night).

Lastly, I looked at the players that worked extra hard to show their new coach that they are on board and ready to get to work. The ones that stood out to me were:

Kruger (who eventually went down with an injury and might be out for the upcoming trip)

I'm not going in-depth on all players but those guys to me, looked like they were given it everything and leaving it all on the ice.

Meanwhile, some others had horrendous games – Seabrook, Gustafsson and Rutta are the first few that came to mind. That's a bad sign and I wouldn't be shocked to see some changes back there sooner than later once JC reports his findings back to Stan.

I don't know about anyone else but in today's NHL, I don't honestly look at any game as a sure-fire win or a game that the Hawks are going to get blown out of the water. There is so much parody now, I think the Hawks need to worry about their own game, implementing as much as Colliton's messaging bit-by-bit and not worry about their opponents as much.

The Hawks next two games are on the road. I think this is a great prescription for this team to get away from Chicago and go on a road trip with their new dad/coach. This way JC can get to know his players a little more and vice versa.

Those games look like this:

11/10 - @ PHI (1pm EST)
11-12 - @ CAR

I will be checking back in over the weekend.

Just an FYI - I am off on vacation as of Sunday (to a sunny resort for a week) however, I will be catching games live when I can, but more likely the replays poolside. I will still be blogging, they might just be shorter and more incoherent than normal.

See ya out there,

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