Is there still faith in Jeremy Colliton? 3 takeaways from the Chicago Blackhawks’ 6-3 loss, which dropped them to 0-5-1 and ended the United Center sellout streak.
So what now?
The Chicago Blackhawks played another game in which they matched the other team’s intensity and kept up with the opponent on the scoreboard. For a period.
But then they imploded, just like they have in all but one game this season (the overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils ).
The 6-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday at the United Center wasn’t just your average loss. It sank the Hawks to the bottom of the league standings (0-5-1 for an .083 points percentage) and set an NHL record for most time without a lead to open a season: 360 minutes and 57 seconds.
“When the bounces are going against us, we’re letting it affect us a little bit too much,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “Sometimes that happens and little things, whether it’s calls or offensive breaks or even goals against, you get that sinking feeling in your stomach and your confidence gets chipped away a little bit.
“We just have to be mentally tougher and not get fazed. ... We have to make a decision as a group to be collectively stronger.”
Coach Jeremy Colliton said the team regressed from the previous two games.
“Too much of tonight is a slip back into things that got us in trouble on the road trip, and we paid a price for it,” he said. “There’s no secrets as far as what we have to do. I think everyone knows.”
Here are three takeaways from the 6-3 loss.
1. Has the team lost faith in Jeremy Colliton?
Colliton says the right things: Play the right way, show energy from the puck drop, be hard to play against, get to the net, create rebounds, stay above the puck on defense, etc.
It goes on, and the players echo a lot of those mantras. But it’s not showing on the ice, at least not consistently.
Do the players still have faith in Colliton?
“Of course,” Toews said. “At this point, there’s details to our game that, when we’ve done them and stuck to them, we have four lines rolling that do things right.”
Defenseman Seth Jones said: “One hundred percent the team has faith in Jeremy. I’ve been here a short time, but his message has been great for us.
“What it really comes down to, there’s only so much a coach can do. He’s not going to lace them up for you. He has to go through systems and X’s and O’s, but at the end of the day, this isn’t a coaching problem. This is a locker-room thing. This is the players on the ice playing the game.”
Jones and Toews said the players have to do more to commit to each other and get on the same page.
Colliton said “of course” he believes the organization still has faith in him.
“Again, there’s no secrets for how we have to play,” he said. “We know what we have to do. Obviously it’s up to me to find a way to get that to translate.”
It’s telling that during a 5-on-3 power play, the Hawks took a timeout and Colliton handed the dry-erase board to Alex DeBrincat as the players huddled to draw up a play.
“Just trying to make a play,” Toews said. “I think we had 7 seconds on the 5-on-3, so just trying to create one good chance before they got their extra guy on the ice.”
Colliton said: “I don’t have all the best ideas. I’m open to coming up with something different.
“They had a pretty good play they drew up. If not mistaken, it just got deflected, Brinksy’s one-timer there. Nothing strange about that.”
2. The death of the sellout streak is just as deflating, if not more so.
Coincidentally, the Pittsburgh Penguins saw their sellout streak end after 14 years — and 633 games — last week against the Dallas Stars.
The Hawks’ capacity-crowd streak lasted 535 games, since the 2007-08 season. Sunday night’s attendance was 19,042.
Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz put out a statement about it — midgame, mind you — to “reassure fans.”
Part of it included: “We thank our fans for bringing the energy each and every game night — and in this moment, it’s hard to be anything but grateful to them for showing up in full force for more than 530 games in a row. We’re actively building toward more competitive play on the ice as well as an experience that invites fans back following the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The fans didn’t put out a formal statement, but their message is clear: Enough.
One of the most loyal fan bases in hockey finally said, via empty seats, that it’s not to be taken for granted. The fans refuse to blindly support a bad product.
Fans chanted, “Fire Colliton,” during the third period.
Asked about the end of the streak, Colliton said: “When you’re not playing well, that’s not a surprise. It’s up to us to play better.
“I believe we have the makings of a good group. We haven’t put it together yet. We need to. We can play a brand of hockey and be a team Chicago can be proud of. But we have to deliver.”
3. The Hawks talked it out. They’re just not telling.
The postgame news conference was delayed by several minutes. It felt like forever.
Something was going down in the locker room. Some things no doubt were being said.
But the players are keeping it to themselves.
“I mean, specifics of what’s said in the locker room always stays in the locker room,” Toews said. “But you could imagine. We’re just trying to dig ourselves out of the hole that we’ve gotten ourselves in for six games here. It’s not a good feeling.
“At the end of the day, the solution’s in our locker room.”
Here is more game coverage.
The Chicago Blackhawks saw one hallowed streak come to a halt while laying claim to one of the worst streaks in NHL history.
The Hawks smashed the 2000-01 Washington Capitals’ record of 350 minutes, 25 seconds without holding a lead to start a season. After the Hawks’ 6-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night at the United Center, the new record stands at 360:57.
It was the Hawks’ sixth straight loss to open the season as they tumbled to 0-5-1 for a league-worst .083 points percentage.
If it’s any consolation, at least fewer fans were at the United Center to witness it. With 19,042 in attendance, the Hawks saw their capacity-crowd streak end at 535 games.
CEO Danny Wirtz issued this statement during the game: “We thank our fans for bringing the energy each and every game night — and in this moment, it’s hard to be anything but grateful to them for showing up in full force for more than 530 games in a row. We’re actively building toward more competitive play on the ice as well as an experience that invites fans back following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“But it’s also important to note that we’ve set a number of goals to welcome new and more diverse audiences into Blackhawks hockey moving forward, and greater accessibility to tickets is a big part of that. This is a great opportunity to reassure fans both new and old that there is absolutely a seat here for them.”
It’s hard to imagine a more nightmarish scenario for Hawks fans: the most goals allowed all season (six) to their most hated rival (the Red Wings) on their home ice, which saw its sellout streak end.
Meanwhile, the hot seat has become a scorcher for coach Jeremy Colliton, whose defense fell into shambles in front of goalie Marc-André Fleury, who has seen better days.
Asked if he believes the organization still has faith in him, Colliton said, “Of course.”
“There’s no secrets for how we have to play,” he said. “We know what we have to do. It’s up to me to find a way to get that to translate.”
Captain Jonathan Toews said “100%” the team still believes in itself.
“I mean, it’s a horrible feeling,” he said. “I don’t think there are many guys who have been through anything like this before, especially to start a season. But when things have gone well for us, at least we’re playing the right way and doing the things we’re supposed to be doing. We haven’t found a way to generate any offense and get on the scoresheet.
“When things go bad for us, it just seems to kind of snowball. We only have ourselves to blame for that.”
Red Wings winger Lucas Raymond had a hat trick and added an assist. The visitors pounded Fleury with four goals in the second period, capitalizing on their 19-6 advantage in shots on goal during the period.
The Hawks played without Patrick Kane , one of five Hawks players who have entered the COVID-19 protocol since Saturday. Ryan Carpenter and Erik Gustafsson returned in time for Sunday’s game, but Riley Stillman and Jujhar Khaira went on the list.
“Patty’s a great player, no question,” Colliton said. “I don’t want to discount the hole he leaves, but ultimately that’s not why we lost.”
The Hawks kept up their appalling penchant for letting opponents score quickly. Tyler Bertuzzi picked off Calvin de Haan’s board pass in the defensive zone and centered it to a streaking Raymond, who swept it past Fleury for a 1-0 lead 5:41 into the game.
Tyler Johnson answered about 7 minutes later in the first.
Dominik Kubalík added a power-play goal in the second, and Henrik Borgström scored his first goal in the third.
With 9 minutes left, Toews appeared to have finally scored his first goal of the season, but the Red Wings challenged based on goalie interference and the goal was overturned.