I'd like to open this thread up to anyone who has an opinion right now. Don't be shy, don't be afraid to share your thoughts. Leave a comment if you have something you feel needs to be said about this team.
I'd like to put everyone in the place of Denis Savard. You're the coach of the Blackhawks, a team that now has an overall record of 15-15-2 on the year and is just 1-6-0 in their last seven games. Your team's power play is fading away after a strong start, they can't bury scoring chances, and you're falling in the standings after being right in the thick of things.
Right now, what changes or tweaks would you make to the lineup/team strategy/philosophy to get this team back on the right track? What needs to be done to light a fire under these guys and get them back playing at the level they should be? I'll start off with some of my own ideas:
- Figure out what you're going to do with David Koci.
Koci had just 2:08 of ice time in tonight's loss to Florida. I don't understand why Denis Savard bothers dressing him if he's not going to let him play enough to really be a factor. A few games ago, Koci received one shift for 30 seconds. That's ridiculous. I understand Koci is basically just an enforcer and isn't very skilled at any facets of the game, but if Savard doesn't value Koci, then he needs to stop playing him, simple as that.
- Move Dustin Byfuglien back to defense.
Byfuglien may have been drafted as a forward but he's been playing defense in the minor leagues and I think this is where he's become comfortable, and with his shot and physicality, he's much more valuable as a defenseman. If you move him back there, there is no need to play Magnus Johansson anymore, which brings me to my next point...
- Get Magnus Johansson off the roster.
I'm not sure how I can really elaborate much on this point, but I can say that Johansson is not someone who can play defense in the NHL. Watching him on the ice is brutal, he brings nothing to the table. He doesn't play physical at all and gives the puck away with frightening regularity. Send him down, waive him, get rid of him some how and put Byfuglien in his spot on defense.
- Stop juggling the lines so much.
Martin Havlat and Robert Lang have both come out and said how much they would like to be able to play with set lines and develop some chemistry. Denis Savard needs to figure out what lines will work the best and keep them that way. Remember when he did this early in the season, and we were winning? Yeah. Time to go back to that.
- Don't give Duncan Keith so much ice time.
I know some people will disagree with me on this, and I understand that, but I have a hard time believing that Duncan Keith is a capable defenseman right now. He improves by small amounts as the game goes on, but the amount of turnovers in his own zone is really frustrating. He's gotten a little better this season, but I still don't believe he should be getting 22-23 minutes on the ice every night.
- Call up Cam Barker.
If Savard is going to be scratching Jim Vandermeer or Magnus Johansson so frequently, then maybe it's time to call up a new defenseman and give him a chance. Barker is young, has good offensive abilities and could even help out on the power play. Why not give him a chance at this point and see if he can help out on the blue line?
Well, there it is. Go ahead and have at it, let it be known what you think needs to be done with this team.