Just Sayin’: Start fast, Blackhawks — like all those other Chicago teams didn’t
Just one piece of advice for the Blackhawks as they attempt to navigate their way through the early seven-game homestand that began Thursday with a 5-4 loss to the previously 0-4-0 Sharks: For the love of Polish sausage, Italian beef, cheering through the national anthem, “Chelsea Dagger” and all else that’s sacred and holy in this world, don’t blow it.
Just one piece of advice for the Blackhawks as they attempt to navigate their way through the early seven-game homestand that began Thursday with a 5-4 loss to the previously 0-4-0 Sharks:
For the love of Polish sausage, Italian beef, cheering through the national anthem, “Chelsea Dagger” and all else that’s sacred and holy in this world, don’t blow it.
Put another way: Try not to be like all the other teams in town, OK?
We’ve seen too many recent examples around here of awful starts and prolonged gags at home to last us a while.
The 2019 Cubs started 1-6, setting a terrible tone, and ended up losing their final six home games in all-out collapse mode.
The White Sox, meanwhile, dropped all but one game on their opening homestand of the seasons, telling us basically everything we needed to know about where they were headed.
And how about those Bears so far? Their season began with a soul-sucking loss to the Packers at Soldier Field, took an alarming turn with an injury to Mitch Trubisky, then got completely deflating and weird with an emotional no-show against the Raiders in London.
So, yeah, Hawks: This homestand — tied for the second-longest in team history — is kind of a big deal. Would it kill you to show up for it?
The Hawks are only two games into a season that began with a 4-3 loss to the Flyers in Prague. But already they’re 0-for-2 when it comes to playing with edge and discipline for a full 60 minutes.
“We did a lot of things right during the game, we just didn’t do them right all the time,” said Andrew Shaw, who scored a pair of goals in his first home game since returning to the Hawks. “We took some shifts off [and] ended up shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Shifts off? That sounds a lot like last October and November, when an underwhelming — at times unenthusiastic — 15-game start put a pink slip under the office door of Joel Quenneville.
“I just think we haven’t quite decided that we’re willing to do the right thing all the time, every shift, for 60 minutes,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “That’s what the teams that have success do.”
One would think it’s Colliton’s job to make the Hawks one of those teams. And if not now, when? They’re staring a supersized opportunity in the face. If they can’t pull themselves together with a proper effort against a team that was outscored 17-5 over its first four games, what’ll happen against the Oilers? The Capitals? The Golden Knights?
Some outstanding opponents are lined up on this homestand.
Is there a sense of urgency in the building?
“Oh, we have it,” Colliton said. “I’m sure of that.”
The Hawks have to want it. They have to smell it. They have to taste it.
Somebody pass these guys the giardiniera.
It sure was great to see Shawlight the lamp — twice — in his first home game since rejoining the Hawks. Think the team missed this face-first agitator just a tad over the last three seasons?
“He brings a lot of energy and a little personality to our team,” Colliton said. “He’s got a really positive effect on the other players that keeps them loose, gets them excited. He plays on the edge. He’s hard. He can sort of drag them into the fight sometimes, give us a little bit of extra edge to our game.”
Yep, sounds like our man.
Shaw was spot-on when asked if defensive breakdowns in the home opener resulted from the offseason turnover of about one-third of the roster.
“We can make up excuses, but that’s not what we’re going to do,” he said. “We’ve still got to be better. We’ve had enough time practicing to know what our D-zone looks like.”
Also, on the thrill of scoring twice at the UC: “Two points for the team would’ve been a lot better.”
Indeed, the Hawks missed him.
• After Joe Girardi interviewed for the Cubs’ managerial opening for eight hours Wednesday, I thought: Now that’s getting deep into things. At worst, he must be Plan B.
Then came David Ross’ turn Thursday, which included an in-broad-daylight Starbucks run by team president Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and the ex-catcher. That had a “job’s yours if you want it, dude” kind of feel.
But maybe he doesn’t want it?
• Blackhawks’ penalty-kill unit vs. Braves’ first-inning pitching. Discuss.
• Look, I won’t lie to you: I’m really digging my preseason World Series pick of Yankees over Cardinals.
For some reason, I’m not quite as high on my picks of the Cubs and Angels — yes, the Angels — to earn wild cards.
• Been shaking my head all week since Illinois football coach Lovie Smith said he “can’t wait” for the time when his defense is talked about as glowingly as Michigan’s defense is.
Next stop: dead ringer for Alabama?
Sorry, I’m just not seeing it.