The Blackhawks are playing like a team that wants to win. If you ask them, that’s exactly their goal.
Phillip Thompson of The Chicago Tribune caught up with veteran defenseman Jack Johnson last week after their previous four-game win streak.
“Getting great players in the draft, certainly that’s awesome … but the guys in here want to win.”
— Phillip Thompson (@_phil_thompson) October 27, 2022
The Hockey Gods
The team is currently 5-4-2 after coming off a 2-1 OT win against the Los Angeles Kings this past Thursday night. The win snapped their four game skid that followed the aforementioned four game winning streak.
Their record is good enough for 3rd in the division and 8th in the Western Conference. Just like we all expected, right?!
The hockey gods work in mysterious ways. But don’t get it twisted. They do not, in any way, support tanking.
We’ve seen it time and time again where teams intentionally tank, only to see their draft lottery ball fail to land in the number one spot.
Take the Buffalo Sabres for example. It was a nationwide phenomenon watching them tank their hardest for McDavid years ago. The consolation prize of Eichel was great, but a 21-win season basically instilled a losing culture that has plagued them for years.
Expectations for the Hawks were, and still somewhat are, that they would finish near the bottom of the standings.
It’s early, but it doesn’t seem like that will be the case.
Coach Richardson To The Rescue
Head Coach Luke Richardson is certainly making GM Kyle Davidson’s job a lot harder than everyone expected.
I haven’t seen a Blackhawks team play this style of a team game in years. They are suffocating teams compared to what we saw during the Colliton era.
It’s truly fun to watch Blackhawks hockey again.
The team stats aren’t exactly eye-popping, but they find themselves tied for 14th in Goals Allowed Per Game. They ranked 26th in the same statistic last year.
Fans were subjected to a Jeremy Colliton defensive system that they referred to as “man and a half.” It seemed obvious to everyone but the coach that this man-to-man system just did not work with the personnel available.
Richardson identified those issues on day one in his introductory press conference and hasn’t looked back since.
His switch to an aggressive zone play has flourished and has directly translated to a higher rate of turnovers forced, as well as praise from around the league.
Before game three of the season, Florida Panthers Head Coach Paul Maurice acknowledged these changes.
“(The Blackhawks) Are very, very dangerous in speed and skill. You’re going to see a completely different style of hockey game (compared to last year).”
The Hawks not only beat the Stanley Cup Contenders, but they would also go 6 for 6 on the penalty kill against a Panthers team that averaged a record-setting 4.11 Goals Per Game last year.
Unfortunately, the team lost their next four games after their herculean effort versus Florida.
A 5-4-2 record once again isn’t a stat that pops off the page. It does however currently prove to be good enough for 3rd place in the Central Division.
Are playoffs more realistic than the upcoming number one overall draft pick? I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Overreacting is the name of the game when it comes to a team like this. Expectations were low and shouldn’t necessarily be raised at this point, but hey, it’s been fun so far!
We are only 11 games into the season but there is a lot to like so far. Is #TankForBedard still on? Looking forward to a great divisional matchup versus the Winnipeg Jets this afternoon!