Blackhawks Banter: Accountability, Kane, No Urgency, Slow Starts & More

To say that the Chicago Blackhawks have had a slow start to their 2021-22 season would be putting it lightly. One of the busiest organizations this past offseason, expectations were justifiably elevated heading into this campaign – among both the franchise and its fanbase. At least such a failure to follow through gives us a lot to talk about on Blackhawks Banter.

Chicago Blackhawks Banter Youtube
Blackhawks Banter (The Hockey Writers)

As our Blackhawks crew of Brooke LoFurno, Greg Boysen, Gail Kauchak, Brooke LoFurno, and Shaun Filippelli prepare to record Episode 49, we just had to let out at least some of what we’re all thinking. For our own sake and so that you can rest assured that you’re not alone with these frustrations.

RELATED: Blackhawks News & Rumours: Slow Start, Fleury, Colliton, Hossa & More

Enjoy this sneak peek of the topics we’ll dig into and debate on the show and be sure to catch the full episode when it drops on Tuesday, so you experience just how therapeutic our group chats can be.

Brooke: Lack of Accountability

When a team is on any kind of losing streak, you want the team to show some type of accountability. Especially when the Blackhawks hit a five-game losing streak, you want the team to show some emotion and honesty. Instead, the team and the coaches keep deflecting the issues.

RELATED: Blackhawks Who Need to Make Their Mark on the 2021-22 Season

Players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Seth Jones all keep echoing the sentiment to the media that they have a good team and system. Head coach Jeremy Colliton says he’s confident in this team.

“We’ve just got to keep going. Disappointing, obviously, but we need to win one game and I think we can build some momentum from there,” head coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We’ve got to find a way to break through. I don’t think we played poorly, I don’t think we played great, but we played solid.”

When the coaches, players, and management all refuse to take responsibility for the on-ice product, it seems like the cycle of losing will continue.

Greg: Patrick Kane Needs to be Better

Heading into his 15th season with the Blackhawks, we know what to expect out of Kane by now. He is going to be an offensive force, but don’t expect much of him defensively. Now, he had had his moments where he makes a good defensive play, but for the most part, the expectations are low. My biggest gripe is that he looks especially disinterested without the puck this season, even to his standards.

Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Kane has been providing the offense with a goal and four assists through five games. He should probably have at least two more goals, but he hasn’t had the finishing touch we are used to. However, it is his complete lack of effort defensively that is the bigger concern. He has been on the ice for just one even-strength goal for and eight against. Not great.

If you need examples of this, check out the Jack Hughes overtime goal in the New Jersey Devils game or the first goal the Vancouver Canucks scored on Thursday. On both of these plays, Kane has it in cruise control and has zero interest in trying to stop the play. With the Hughes goal, he hurries back, but once in the zone he just drifts away from the play and made no effort to help out. On the Canucks goal, he’s halfway back to the bench as the puck is flying towards his net.

RELATED: IceHogs’ Slavin & Phillips Leading the Youth Movement

Nobody is asking Kane to be Patrice Bergeron or Marian Hossa out there. What is being asked is that he cares, or, at least gives us the appearance that he cares. This is a team that is lost and desperate for a win, so you’d expect more from No. 88. When the guys wearing a letter on their jersey look like they don’t want to put the work in, it’s no wonder why they don’t have a victory yet.

Gail: Lack of Urgency in Third Frames

It’s five games in, and the Blackhawks are 0-4-1. On top of that, they haven’t held a lead once in those five games. Sure, they’ve played better the last few tilts. But a big bone of contention is that the Blackhawks can’t put together a full 60-minute effort. This is very true, and I’d specifically like to focus on their lack of urgency in the third period.

Last season, the Blackhawks weren’t very good. They were officially rebuilding, and expectations were low. But here’s the thing. At least they were resilient. They fell behind a lot, but there was some spit and vinegar among the players. They never gave up, fighting their way back into games even if they still lost. I don’t see that yet this season at all. In short, the players don’t really seem to care.

2020-21 Chicago Blackhawks
2020-21 Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

In the third period so far this season, the Blackhawks have only scored five goals, while also allowing five goals. But we all know they headed into these third frames already down on the scoresheet. Shouldn’t there be some kind of a push?

The Hawks have put 43 shots on net in the third frame compared to their opponents’ 39. That’s pretty even. It shouldn’t be that way. If the Blackhawks are wanting to win these games, they should be throwing everything on net. There should be a sense of urgency to win. The only game we saw this in was the Devils game when they came back to force overtime. Against the Penguins, the Blackhawks had two shots on goal in the third period. The Penguins had five. I guess the game was out of reach at 5-1, but still. Two shots on net?

RELATED: Blackhawks See Both Good & Bad From Slow Season Start

You can see it in interviews as well. This team seems resigned to their fate instead of digging deep and finding a way to change things. Unless they find that fire, they’re going to keep losing.

Shaun: Yet Another Slow Start

Do you remember, less than a full calendar year ago, when the Blackhawks started their 2020-21 campaign with four straight losses? Things seemed bleak, but it wasn’t overly surprising – or even that concerning – since they had already proclaimed their rebuild to the world. We expected them to lose because they told us they would, so it all aligned.

Stan Bowman communicated a drastically different memo this past offseason. The level of experience and resumes of success that he infused into Chicago’s locker room signalled a clear-cut message that his goal was to make them competitive again. Plus, their captain was back. All signs pointed to a much more successful recipe.

Unfortunately, five straight losses to kick off 2021-22 means they missed a step or two when baking up this plan. And it’s not as though anyone can justifiably compare this year to last, in that they still found a way out of that rut and into a battle for playoff positioning, because each team had a drastically different outlook heading into their respective season.

Simply stated, whether or not the 2021-22 Blackhawks make a postseason appearance is far less optional. It’s what this re-constructed roster has to achieve, to make any sense of their aggressive offseason activity.

RELATED: 3 Bold Blackhawks Predictions for the 2021-22 Season

Objectively, they do still have 77 games left and a lot can happen within that span. Yet, in order to make good on what remains, those that are there to perform better start taking their job a lot more seriously than it seems they have been. Winning can’t be a surprise this season, it’s what needs to be expected.

Blackhawks Banter Drops on Tuesday

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel, find us on your preferred podcast platform, and connect with Blackhawks Banter on Twitter, so you catch every new episode the moment they drop.

Miss last week’s show?

Sign up for our regular 'Blackhawks Newsletter' for all the latest.