Blackhawks’ forechecking mistakes prompt Marc Crawford tirade during practice

After the Hawks again bungled a forechecking drill, with one of their forecheckers “going somewhere for no reason,” their veteran assistant laid into them Tuesday.

SHARE Blackhawks’ forechecking mistakes prompt Marc Crawford tirade during practice

The Blackhawks haven’t generated enough forechecking pressure on opposing defensemen this season.

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

The Blackhawks worked on forechecking during practice Tuesday.

But the usual sounds at Fifth Third Arena — skates scraping ice, pucks banging against glass, sticks knocking into each other — were drowned out for much of the workout by fuming, screaming Hawks assistant Marc Crawford.

Crawford, who was known (and sometimes criticized) for his fiery temper at previous stops but has worked to calm himself since coming to Chicago, unleashed several profanity-laden tirades when the Hawks continued to make the same mistakes in drills that they had during their lifeless loss Monday to the Canucks.

‘‘We need a wake-up call here,’’ interim coach Derek King said afterward, speaking on behalf of the coaching staff. ‘‘It was good. [It added] a little emotion, a little excitement. It was making them feel a little uncomfortable, which they needed.’’

King admitted he and Crawford adopt a good-cop, bad-cop approach, when necessary. That’s logical, given their contrast on the intense-to-laid-back spectrum. So King, clad in his daily toque, watched quietly as Crawford orchestrated the drills and jack-of-all-trades assistant Chris Kunitz manned the whiteboard.

Dylan Strome and MacKenzie Entwistle, the two players who spoke after practice, echoed Crawford’s frustration.

‘‘That wasn’t a great effort [Monday],’’ Strome said. ‘‘[We have] to be more desperate than that, especially now. . . . [Crawford] does a good job of showing his emotion. He has been around for a long time, and he knows when to do it and when not to do it. Clearly, he felt like we needed it, and we’ll respond [Wednesday].’’

‘‘It’s great when coaches and players are showing emotion,’’ Entwistle said. ‘‘That means people care. They want to get everyone giving their 100%.’’

The Hawks (16-22-7), who have lost six of their last seven games and 12 of 17 since mid-December, will host the Wild on Wednesday before beginning the All-Star break. And although the list of issues contributing to their struggles has become quite long, the forecheck is the latest focus.

When forechecking, the first forward to enter the offensive zone and pursue the puck is called the ‘‘F1,’’ the second to do so is the ‘‘F2’’ and the last is the ‘‘F3.’’ The Hawks are particularly concerned about the ineffectiveness of their F2s.

‘‘F1 has to drive the engine,’’ King said. ‘‘F2 has to read off F1, and a lot of times we weren’t [doing that]. We were getting lost. F2 was just going somewhere for no reason. You can’t do that, especially against really good teams. One pass beats us all. And then F3, he’s in la-la land. It’s not good.

‘‘So that’s what we wanted to work on today. [But] the guys weren’t getting it right away. As a coach, sometimes you get a little ticked off, and you show it.’’

King wants the Hawks’ F2 to analyze the F1’s situation as he pursues the opponent’s first defenseman back, then determine whether he should ‘‘hunt down’’ the other defenseman or anticipate where the first defenseman might try to exit or clear the zone.

‘‘Then the F3 comes in a little late, and he’s a support for all that,’’ King said. ‘‘And if we do win the battle, then all of a sudden F3 joins in, and you’ve got your ‘O’-zone [possession].’’

That wasn’t happening much Monday, and it hasn’t happened enough all season. The Hawks rank last in the NHL in forecheck (and cycle) scoring chances during five-on-five play, according to analyst Corey Sznajder’s tracked data, and only three Hawks forwards (Ryan Carpenter, Brandon Hagel and Philipp Kurashev) sit above the league average in forecheck pressures and recovered dump-ins.

It is yet another area that needs help. It’s just unclear whether Crawford’s fury, as justified as it might have been, will make a difference.

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