The Blackhawks embarked on a brief two game road trip this week, playing Philadelphia on Wednesday and Washington on Thursday. They not only lost both games, but were outscored 7-1. The instinctive response is likely to be “What is wrong with the defense?”. Well, the defense is the least of their problems right now.
Blackhawks forwards not named Anisimov, Kane and Panarin have zero goals through the first five games. Further, the three aforementioned forwards play on the same line. Yep, the top line of Toews and Hossa have no goals and two assists, total through five games. Bickell and Shaw haven’t added anything either. Actually the defense has outscored our other three lines thus far with goals from Van Riemsdyk, Svedberg and Seabrook. That isn’t going to get it done. Congrats by the way to Svedberg and Van Riemsdyk on netting their first ever NHL goals!
Coach Quenneville, master mixer that he is, has responded by “Qing” up his line blender. He has already tried various combinations on left wing with Toews and Hossa, including Kane and Bickell, but so far nothing. To be fair, there are a lot of new pieces and everyone is still getting used to each other. However, what I am seeing is too many attempts to get fancy and score highlight reel goals. The Blackhawks need net front presence and greasy goals, then the skill game can shine through. This is a problem that seems to plague them every year. Yet, there is no panic on the team (unlike the fans). As Shaw said after the game Thursday “These are the games that help build character as a team, and we’re going to rebound from it.”
The frustration with constantly changing up the lines, is that now the one effective line of Kane, Panarin and Anisimov is no more. At last check, Kane was up with Toews and Bickell on the first line, while Hossa teamed up with Anisimov and Panarin. That isn’t just line blending, that is full out puree! As Quenneville said, “If we like it, we wouldn’t be changing.”
Down 2-0 going into the 3rd period? Offense just not clicking? Try the Coach Q Line Blender. Available at Dominics pic.twitter.com/JsiYncY1KW
— Masher (@masher2112) October 15, 2015
The good news is Columbus comes to town Saturday. They have allowed 20 goals in 4 games thus far, so the ingredients seem right for a successful result. Hey far be it from me to question the coach with 3 Cups in 6 years. He clearly knows his team and how to get the most out of them. He has certainly earned the title of Master Mixologist. Blend away Coach Q, just forgive us fans if we get a little dizzy.
Rick is fortunate to live off the I-90 hockey corridor where both his beloved Chicago Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs (aka Baby Hawks) call home. Hockey has been in his blood since the early 1970’s when he saw his first Blackhawks game at the “Old Barn”. His favorite player is Keith Magnuson followed closely by Bobby Hull (old school!). When not covering the greatest sport, he enjoys watching live music and has even been known to join his beloved bands on stage for a song or two. Follow Rick on Twitter via @HawksStrength