The post Olympic slump by the Blackhawks is overblown. They are not playing their best hockey, and they are still playing 500 hockey. This does not mean there should not be any changes.There are a few things that need to be done. The first thing that needs to be done is Byfuglien remaining on defense. The second thing that needs to occur is Ladd and Bolland playing on the same line and other changes that need to occur on the forward lines. The third thing that needs to be done is related to strategy.
1. Byfuglien should stay at defense as long as he is a Blackhawk. In the past few games, he has been one of the bright spots on the Blackhawks. He seems reenergized now that he is back at his natural position. He brings size, toughness and a booming shot from the blue line. When the Blackhawks have Seabrook and Johnsson back, Seabrook and Keith should remain together on the top pair. Byfuglien and Hjalmarsson should remain together. Hendry and Johnsson should be paired together.
2. Ladd and Bolland need to return to the same line with Hossa on the right wing. These line would be reminiscent of the Ladd-Bolland-Havlat line which dominant last season. Not only can they score, but their main purpose would be to go against the top line of their opponent. That should be a really good second line. The first line would remain Brouwer-Toews-Kane, which seems to dominant every other shift they are out there. The third line should be Versteeg-Madden-Sharp. The fourth line should be Kopecky-Fraser-Burish. I have had enough of Eager’s antics plus Fraser adds another penalty killer to the lineup.
3. The first strategic change the Blackhawks need to do is to keep the pressure on for a full 60 regardless of the score. In the third period of games they are winning they seem to dump the puck and allow the opposing teams to clear the zone, cross the center line and dump the puck in. The sitting back needs to stop.
The second strategic change the Blackhawks need is to shoot the puck more on offense. I am getting sick of watching guys pass when they should shoot. Shoot first. If there is no shooting lane, pass the puck. If there is no pass lane or person to pass to, hold onto the puck and wait for support. Now, the shots should be located high glove. That is the weakness of a majority of the butterfly goalies in the NHL.