On Nov. 6, 2018 the Chicago Blackhawks announced they had fired the greatest coach in franchise history. Joel Quenneville was relieved of his duties with the Hawks having a 6-6-3 record. It was obviously not the start the front office was hoping for and they decided to make a significant change, going with Jeremy Colliton as the replacement.
At the time of Quenneville’s exit, here’s where the Blackhawks were in some specific statistical categories:
- 6-6-3 record
- 15 games played
- 46 goals for (3.0/gm)
- 56 goals against (3.7/gm)
- 492 shots on net for (32.8/gm)
- 502 shots on net against (33.5/gm)
- 14.0% power play (rank: 26)
- 76.6% penalty kill (rank: 23)
- 49.4% faceoffs (rank: 20)
Today is the anniversary of Quenneville getting fired. Between then and now, the front office has made the third overall pick in the NHL Draft and spent significant resources in free agency/trades to improve the roster that wasn’t getting it done for Quenneville.
Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were the only defensemen on the ice in Los Angeles Saturday night who were on the team when Quenneville was fired; Erik Gustafsson was a healthy scratch who returned to the lineup on Sunday in Anaheim. Seven of the 12 forwards who dressed against the Kings and Ducks weren’t on the roster when Q got the axe.
This is a largely different roster.
The results have not improved.
- 4-7-3 record
- 14 games played
- 33 goals for (2.36/gm)
- 43 goals against (3.07/gm)
- 400 shots on net for (30.1/gm)
- 467 shots on net against (35.6/gm)
- 11.9% power play (rank: 28)
- 80.4% penalty kill (rank: 19)
- 49.2% faceoffs (rank: 19)
Obviously reading the numbers you quickly realize the Blackhawks are allowing more shots on net per game this year in spite of the more expensive, “improve” group on the blue line. The goals against have come down (thanks, Robin Lehner) but the goals for have come down significantly as well.
And, somehow, the power play got worse.
A few other comments:
- The new-look second power play unit that we saw in Anaheim has the look of one that could be dangerous. Even if it feels like Jonathan Toews is babysitting on paper, they looked good.
- Until the late power play goal scored by the Ducks on Sunday, Chicago had killed 15 straight penalties. That’s solid improvement. The addition of Ryan Carpenter specifically has made a difference there.
- The faceoff percentage getting worse is a concern. David Kampf has struggled and the Hawks haven’t seen improvement from Dylan Strome at the dot. Colliton was excited about the Hawks new versatility up front and that he had more than 3-4 guys who could take a draw, but the only two skaters above 50 percent at the dot thus far are Toews and Carpenter.
- It appears Colliton has found some lines that work (finally). Alex Nylander’s upside is starting to show.
- Even though the Hawks are paying Zack Smith, they aren’t playing him. Colliton has shown a willingness to sit guys – including Erik Gustafsson and Seabrook – and put kids into the lineup. That should help their development, assuming Colliton continues to use them appropriately.