It’s no secret at this point in the season that the Chicago Blackhawks are not a perfect team. They are not Stanley Cup contenders and it’s looking more likely that they are not true Stanley Cup playoff contenders, either.
Last night’s 5-1 loss to the Dallas Stars seemed to be a culmination of a lot of things wrong with the 2021 iteration of the Blackhawks. Primarily, costly mistakes not being rectified.
Blackhawks teams of the past used to have this aura around them, which, whatever happened, they were never out of a game. They could be down two, three, four goals and still feel like the game would be within arms reach. The leadership of the team stretched way beyond Jonathan Toews and whoever was wearing a letter for Chicago at the time.
The last few seasons, however, that’s been missing, and it was especially evident last night. After a bad penalty call against them and a costly turnover by Nikita Zadorov that led to a Stars goal, there was no push back, no response from the Blackhawks. One goal snowballed into two goals, three, and then four goals to close the game.
While it wasn’t a multi-goal lead blown, the narrative was the same for Chicago this season, where one mistake turns into many more and they let games get away from them.
After the game, things got complicated. Veteran defenseman Connor Murphy and head coach Jeremy Colliton had differing views on what the team has gone through this season when things have not gone their way in games.
Here's Colliton on the same subject. The latter 2 questions were from me. pic.twitter.com/HrUtQRnWl0
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) April 9, 2021
Colliton’s “We’re all in this together” comment makes me cringe. Mainly because it makes me think of High School Musical and of the ongoing pandemic. But also because it’s something that you shouldn’t have to clarify to a group of professional athletes.
Look, not having Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook on the active roster and in the locker room has an undeniable affect on this team. But having guys like Murphy and Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane in the room, guys who have been around good and bad teams for a long while, there has to be accountability. Where is the “buy-in” we talked about just a few weeks ago? The losses are mounting for this relatively young team, having dropped 11 of their last 16 games. Chicago is the furtherest from a playoff spot (four points) that they have been since the second week of the year. Is the season already out of reach in the minds of the players?
Let’s hope not.
Jeremy Colliton is a polarizing head coach among the Blackhawks fan community. At times, his strategy and style seem to work well with this group, and at other times it seems to miss the mark on the simple things within the game. He has an 80-76-22 record in three partial NHL seasons as a head coach.
Is he terrible and should be fired? No. But at the same time, all that Jack Adams award consideration for NHL Coach of the Year has gone away, and unless things turnaround inside the locker room and on the ice, his seat will begin to heat up, even as his contract extension to the end of the 2022-23 season kicks in at the end of this year.