Hawks finally look like a real hockey team
I had to take a time out this week from all things Blackhawks.
After that game on Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks, I wasn't sure what to write.
I was getting tired of watching a solid hockey team play like a terrible one.
There was also a "where's-my-pitchfork" theme going around on Twitter that went mostly like this "FIRE JEREMY COLLITON!"
To be honest, I was planning on writing a Colliton blog dedicated to the Blackhawks bench boss as well.
To date, I have been more positive than negative on Coach Colliton. While it seemed like he was a year or two ahead of schedule with his promotion, I believed he was a strong hockey mind that, coupled with this communication skills, would translate well in the NHL.
For the most part, he's also received a pass from me during questionable play and moves because, well, replacing a legend like Joel Quenneville in November of an NHL season sounds disastrous for anyone.
After a full training camp (sure, they were disrupted by a trip to Europe, but still…), Colliton's Hawks have been – as I wrote this week – consistently inconsistent.
The Sharks game this week was a bit of a breaking point for me and wouldn't have been shocked or too upset to see Colliton removed from his position.
After last night's win, I'm not giving him a full pass, but he lives another day in my books.
Our friend Al Cimaglia stated is nicely on the Twitter-machine last night:
Al with an astute observation here; I noticed as well from the second the puck was dropped, the Blackhawks looked like they had more freedom to just play the game.
A lot has been made about subtle comments the Blackhawk players have been making about the style of play and their game overall. It sounded like they just want to play like they're used to playing – which if they hone in the defensive side – is better than whatever Colliton created at the beginning of this season.
Sure the Hawks were a little too loose and irresponsible last year, but they were on pace for 100+ points in the 2nd half of the season and they were actually fun to watch.
I'm not sure why Colliton decided to abandon that completely on the offensive side. I get the goals against needed to come down but why take the scoring creativity away from these guys.
Well, either someone upstairs said something or Colliton realized the errors in his ways. Gone was the dump-and-chase/lose it strategy for the most part last night and the Hawks looked a lot better.
Some highlights from the game for me last night included:
* Duncan Keith – he played a really strong game and the Hawks will need him to every night with this defence.
* Erik Gustafsson – the partner to Keith, Gustafsson played possibly his best game last night. It was certainly his most engaged.
* Corey Crawford – it was a scramble at times but overall Crow played a really strong game with 36 saves.
* The Power Play – the Hawks went 2/4 last night with the man advantage against a strong PK team. They need this to continue.
* Jonathan Toews – he looked quick and battled hard all over the ice. He wasn't rewarded with a point but for the first time this season he had 5 SOGs.
* Patrick Kane – his corsi was terrible but that's why advanced stats don't tell the full story. He had 3 points (1 G, 2 A) but most importantly he was having a ton of fun out there. Case and point here:
The Hawks' next tests are big ones. The Penguins host the Hawks on Saturday and then CHI welcomes the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday at home.
Can they keep this positive play up?
See ya out there!