Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton directs his team.

Kamil Krzaczynski/USA Today Sports

Blackhawks 3 Up, 3 Down: Level Of Fight Lacking

The Blackhawks' edge is rarely evident of late.

Jay Zawaski
December 04, 2018 - 12:26 pm
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(670 The Score) The Blackhawks have lost six of their last seven games and needed a last-minute goal and overtime to earn the one victory they did get in that stretch. It's time for "Three up, three down" even if it might seem easier to do just "Six down."

THREE UP

1. Strome is finding his stride – In his four games since joining the Blackhawks, Dylan Strome has recorded two goals and an assist. He has improved with every game as well. Strome has found himself on a line with Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat, which would help anyone rack up points, but his offensive skill is evident. I also feel secure in saying reports of his "skating issues" were probably a bit overblown. While he may not be the second coming of Pavel Bure, he has kept up with some pretty speedy linemates. I would like to see Strome be a little more aggressive when it comes to shooting, but his patience with the puck is an asset that I don’t want stifled, either. So far, so good for the newest Blackhawks center.

2.  Murphy is close – Defenseman Connor Murphy has been practicing with the team and should be about a week away from making his season debut with the Blackhawks. Murphy had his ups and downs in his first year in Chicago last season, but he’s clearly an upgrade over Jan Rutta and Brandon Manning. I also believe Murphy could eventually take a step forward without the Joel Quenneville glare over his shoulder. Quenneville’s mind is difficult to change, and it took Murphy a large chunk of last season to regain his trust after a rough start. 

3. Kampf, Kahun and khemistry – Blackhawk coach Jeremy Colliton paired David Kampf and Dominik Kahun together a few games back, and they’ve been one of the team’s most consistent lines. While they’re not racking up huge point totals, they’ve controlled the puck and have played a simplified game -- which is something the entire team could begin to try.

THREE DOWN

1. Level of fight – Until Duncan Keith decided to take it upon himself to get tossed from a loss in Nashville on Saturday, the Blackhawks weren't only losing, they were getting physically and mentally worked. It was clear to even the most novice observer that the Hawks were simply getting pushed around. Sadly, it took a future first-ballot Hall of Fame defenseman in Duncan getting tossed and their smallest forward in DeBrincat dropping to gloves to even light a spark. I’m not sure if the players are pouting that Quenneville is gone or if they’re just not used to sucking, but they better figure it out quickly. Colliton is the coach. Stan Bowman is the general manager. None of that's changing any time soon. The players need to accept that and deal with it, or else they’ll end up in another jersey.

2. Kunitz …what do you do? – When Bowman realized the team needed a veteran scoring winger this offseason, he jumped at the chance to sign 39-year-old Chris Kunitz. In his 21 electrifying games with the Blackhawks, he’s recorded all of two assists. Against Calgary on Sunday, he elbowed Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic. He picked up a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. During that five-minute power play, the Flames scored twice. That’s Kunitz’s season in the nutshell. Do nothing beneficial, hurt the team otherwise. It’s time to put Kunitz out to pasture. He had a wonderful career and from all reports is a great locker room presence, but he’s got nothing left hockey wise. Let a kid play. There’s no way a kid would contribute less.  

3. Bowman’s trade options – With the announcement Tuesday of the new Seattle franchise beginning in the 2021-'22 season, the Arizona Coyotes will now move to the Central Division with the Blackhawks, Jets, Stars, Avalanche, Wild, Blues and Predators. The Coyotes are one of the three teams with which Bowman has been willing to deal. Now with Arizona in the division, I guess trades will be exclusive to Carolina and Columbus.

Jay Zawaski is the executive producer of the Bernstein & McKnight Show on 670 middays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m and a columnist for 670 The Score. He also is the co-host of the Madhouse Chicago Hockey Podcast, which is available on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify or your preferred podcast app. Follow him on Twitter @JayZawaski670.​​​