Very little has gone right with the Chicago Blackhawks in their first 20 games this season. They have changed coaches after Joel Quenneville lost five straight and little has gone right since then as new head coach Jeremy Colliton has gone 1-2-2 since then. Regardless, Scott Powers of The Athletic (subscription required) breaks down the play of every player through the first 20 games.
Perhaps the most expected criticism comes to Nick Schmaltz, who many people had pegged as having a breakout season this year. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened as he has just two goals and eight points so far this year. Yet Powers notes that while many criticize his play for a lack of shooting, Schmaltz has actually increased that to 5.17 shots on goal per 60 minutes — the highest in his career. Quenneville moved him to wing in hopes of sparking that offense, which Colliton has maintained, yet the team is still waiting for an increase in production.
“I think he can be more active away from the puck,” Colliton said. “He can be a little more engaged in 50/50s at times. But he’s showing flashes of that. I thought his third period after we moved him to Arty’s line there he was really good. I think look back to the Carolina game in their rink he was maybe our best player. That’s what we want out of him more consistently. We got to see if he can play center because I think he could really add a lot to our team. When that happens, I don’t know. There’s a lot of upside there, no question.”
- Nashville Predators forward Kevin Fiala found himself getting very little ice time between the second and third periods Saturday against Los Angeles, getting only three shifts as Ryan Hartman took his place in 5×5 play, while he lost his power play role to Calle Jarnkrok. However, when asked about why Fiala lost playing time, head coach Peter Laviolette said it was just a coincidence, according to The Athletic’s Adam Vingan. “Sometimes it’s just the way the game is going inside of the lines and the numbers,” said Laviolette. “We made a move and put Ryan Hartman up there, and all of the sudden they had a good shift. We went into the game with the thought of Calle and Kevin splitting power-play time. Kevin got the first one, and Calle ended up getting the second one and looked good on it. We just stuck with it. It seemed to be working, so we made the switches.”
- Mike Russo of The Athletic (subscription required) writes that the Minnesota Wild might be better off without veteran Matt Hendricks who has gotten into two straight games for the Wild. However, the scribe points out that the team plays better when Hendricks is out of the lineup as the team’s fourth line of Marcus Foligno, Eric Fehr and J.T. Brown have been fantastic together. Minnesota is 10-2 when Hendricks is not in the lineup, compared to 2-4-2 with him. Coincidentally, Russo reports that Hendricks will be a healthy scratch today.