After Thursday’s 4–1 loss to the visiting Vancouver Canucks, Chicago Blackhawks Head Coach Jeremy Colliton commented in the post-game press conference about feeling the pressure of his team’s poor start.
“It’s always there,” Colliton said in the presser. “There was pressure from the first day I got here. It’s up to us and it’s up to me to find a new way to give these guys what they need to perform at their highest level.”
In Chicago’s 0–4–1 start, the team’s worst start in 20 years, the team has yet to have a lead in 300:57 minutes played. This would not be as alarming if the Blackhawks’ second-longest streak was last season (226:06 minutes), but something is not working, and it has been prevalent for more than five early games this season. There is something in Colliton’s “system” that has been failing for more than this early season start.
Chicago has been outscored 21–9 this season and has only mustered three even-strength goals. A team that was horrible at 5-on-5 play last season, the Blackhawks rarely generate any sustained pressure in the offensive zone, have zero puck possession (or any cycling for that matter) and have a poor net-front presence. On most occasions, Chicago has one shot one goal and is out of the offensive zone in the blink of an eye. The New York Islanders took advantage of Chicago’s lack of size and did an excellent job of boxing out the Blackhawks from any rebounds on Tuesday. Vancouver was just as successful Thursday.
The most frightening quality in Chicago’s play is the lack of desperation. Outside of a quick start in the home opener against the Islanders, Chicago has looked methodical, slow to react and out-classed for the majority of this young season. If the top-level players are not producing, this team does not have the secondary fire power to get things done on the scoresheet. The roster structure (a completely different problem) does not give Colliton a ton of options outside of a select few.
To summarize Thursday’s game: Colliton allowed Dylan Strome to play after watching four games in the press box. Alex DeBrincat scored his second goal of the season to tie the game 1–1 at the 8:26 mark in the first period. Patrick Kane and Seth Jones assisted on the goal. Vancouver would outscore Chicago 3–0 the rest of the way en route to a 4–1 victory for the visitors.
Chicago led 30–25 in shots.
— Patrick Kane celebrated his 1,000th career game with his family by his side after hitting the milestone last season. Kane had wanted to wait for a formal celebration until fans were able to return to the United Center.
— Alex DeBrincat continues to show he can be a force with the puck on his stick.
— Coming back after missing last season, Jonathan Toews has zero points to start the season. He mentioned after the home opener at the post-game presser that his conditioning needs to get better. It is tough to watch the Captain struggle after all he has done for this organization. It would be great to see him get it going.
— Chicago’s 0–4–1 record is the worst start in 20 years.
— The lack of urgency. To say the first five games of the season have been poor would be a disservice to how poor the play has been for three seasons.
— General Manager Stan Bowman is the mastermind behind this organization.
The Blackhawks will look for their first win of the season when they return to the ice on Sunday, hosting the Detroit Red Wings for a 6 p.m. CDT puck drop.