I wouldn’t tell you I know what the rest of this season is worth or going to be. The one thing I can say for sure is that it’s a study, not a referendum, of Jeremy Colliton. Unless the Hawks go 0-12-1 and Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews attempt to give him a Shatter Machine in his office, he’s going to be the coach going forward. So what we want to see is that his methods and tactics are having an effect, and the team and players are getting better. There needs to be a base camp for next year, let’s say.
So let’s revisit where the Hawks are under Colliton from various points. We did this just about a month ago, and what we found was that though the Hawks record was much improved, the process was still rotten. Is the process getting any better? Um…maybe?
Ok, so we’ll try and do this from three points on the calendar. The first is since Colliton took over on November 8th:
Corsi-percentage: 48.3 (23rd)
Scoring Chance Percentage: 46.0 (30th)
High Danger Chance Percentage: 42.8 (Dead Ass Last)
The last time we tried this, we looked from December 17th, which is when the Hawks started their first run of 12-6-4 to get back into it all. So from December 17th, after Colliton had been on the job for a month, until now:
Corsi Percentage: 47.6 (26th)
Scoring Chance Percentage: 45.0 (30th)
High Danger Chance Percentage: 41.6 (Dead Ass Last)
Not great, Bob! Ok, so today, let’s also add just the last month:
Corsi Percentage: 50.9 (13th)
Scoring Chance Percentage: 46.5 (30th)
High Danger Chance Percentage: 45.0 (27th)
We’re not last! We’re not last!
If you want to believe, and you shouldn’t be blamed if you do because it’s better, healthier, and happier to think your coach knows what he’s doing, then the last month has seen an uptick in the Hawks percentages, even if they’re not on the positive side of the ledger in the types of chances they get. They are in overall attempts, which is at least something of a foothold.
Now clearly, this isn’t very scientific, and when you’re looking at a snippet of the schedule, the quality of that snippet plays a major role. In that span of the last month, the only “real” teams the Hawks have played are the Bruins, Sharks, the Jackets debatably, maybe the Avs, maybe the Stars. They were clocked by the Bruins and Sharks, while played the Avs and Stars basically even. And really, even with the Stars and Avs is probably where they “should” be, and may yet end up. Still, at this point we’ll take any uptick we can find, and hope that it continues through the last three weeks of the season here.
That said, after the Leafs tomorrow night, the rest of the Hawks schedule is filled with teams on the fringes of the playoff race, where they probably “should” be, aside from one date with the Sharks again. That is until the season closes with three games against actually good teams, and you can easily see a scenario where they spend the next two weeks playing themselves right onto the cusp of the last spot, and then get flambeed by the Jets, Blues, and Preds.
But that’s neither here nor there. Another factor we can look at with Colliton, seeing as how he’ll be given more and more young players as we go forward, is to see improvement from anyone. The obvious candidate is Erik Gustafsson, who is 9th in scoring among d-men which is something we’re just never going to get used to. Unlike Q, you could argue that Colliton has simply forgiven Gus for his various and numerous defensive drownings, and taken the points and fireworks. I’ll let you have it if you want.
Brendan Perlini is going to have to have more than a good week before we chalk that up as a success story. Dylan Strome is a name some would bring up, but that could be a result of just getting to play with better talent than he ever did in Arizona (there is no Alex DeBrincat in Glendale). Henri Jokiharju is in Rockford. Slater Koekkoek and Gustav Forsling have proven to be very much Slater Koekkoek and Gustav Forsling, and will go down as a “miss.” Dominik Kahun and Drake Caggiula haven’t proven to be much more than “guys.” They get an incomplete at best.
So the jury is anything but in no matter the category. This is a big three weeks for the Hawks, and it’s a bigger three weeks for their coach. He’s clearly still got some veterans to convince, and he can do that by watching the Hawks improve through this last stretch when the games are most tense. To be fair to him, the Hawks had two big games at the end of last month, and they weren’t….horrible. But they lost. If they streak their way into another chance at games like that somewhere along here, they’re going to have to be better.
Otherwise, he and the Hawks will basically be starting all back over in September.