SUNRISE, Fla. – With a young team going up against two squads that have established themselves in the Eastern Conference last season, it figured to be a rough go for the Blackhawks in their first two series.
Indeed that has been the case, and the scores certainly show a how difficult things could be for the group during the 2021 season.
In three games to start the year, two against the reigning champion Lightning and one against the Panthers, the Blackhawks have been outscored 15-5 in a trio of losses.
The last two games were a bit closer than the score indicated, with the team entering the game Friday in Tampa down a goal and tied with Florida on Sunday night. But bad finished ended both contests in a 5-2 result for the opponent of the Blackhawks before one more game against Florida on Monday night.
It’s not the best way to build some confidence for a younger team, but it’s far from anything to panic about. For one, such struggles were expected for a group that’s without their captain and still rotating goalies with Corey Crawford gone.
Hence Jeremy Colliton is trying to keep some perspective in the start while keeping his player’s spirits up to prevent frustration from piling up. Starting fast is a good place to begin for the coach, since the Blackhawks have fallen behind by at least two goals in the first or second period.
“We’d like to see a little more urgency earlier because I thought we had some pushes and that’s how we’ve got to play,” said Colliton. “We’re on the edge of breaking through, we tie it up, and obviously they come right back at us. It’s probably it’s going to be a similar story here for a while just looking to find consistency, not just game to game but shift-to-shift.
“So that’s the challenge for now.”
Keeping the narrow focus is the recommendation to the younger players from veteran defenseman Connor Murphy as the team tries to dig out of the early hole.
“You just go one day at a time,” said Murphy. “That’s all you can control, what you have in front of you. Next game, just know you can control your shift, you control what you have to give to the team to be better in whatever way is possible.
“You’re not getting anywhere by being negative, so optimism and positivity and enthusiasm is what we need.”