Should run-and-gun Blackhawks just try to outscore opponents?
Since the dawn of time -- or at least the invention of sports -- the "defense wins championships" mantra has been proclaimed ad nauseam.
And while that will almost certainly be the case come playoff time, what we are witnessing in the new-age NHL is a sight to behold as teams attempt to outgun each other on a nightly basis.
That includes the Chicago Blackhawks, who averaged a whopping 5 goals over their previous 11 contests heading into Wednesday night's affair at Detroit. They won 8-5, 7-3, 6-2, 5-2, 5-2 and 8-7.
So maybe it's time to embrace the offense that Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad and Erik Gustafsson provide and just say "to heck with the defense."
No surprise here, but coach Jeremy Colliton didn't exactly go along with that line of thinking.
"We have some strengths as a team and we have some weaknesses, but it doesn't mean you don't continue to work on your weaknesses," Colliton said. "We want to keep the strengths and cater to our strengths but also we can still improve, and that's going to be an ongoing process.
"I don't see this being a finished product for some time."
Through Tuesday, the Hawks had allowed the most goals in the league at 222. Of the teams that would currently qualify for the playoffs, only Washington (190) and San Jose (187) were even close to that number. The top three teams in the Central -- Winnipeg (170), Nashville (162) and St. Louis (163) -- were far below the Hawks.
It's easy to point to Gustafsson's gaffes, Carl Dahlstrom's inconsistency, Gustav Forsling's flubs and Brent Seabrook's slip-ups as the primary reasons for so many Grade A scoring chances by opponents. But when you're giving up 38 shots a game -- as the Hawks have done since Dec. 27 -- it's more than just the six defensemen who are the issue.
"We have to play better and continue to improve reads, awareness, compete level," Colliton said. "It's not just the 'D.' It's a five-man game.
"In the modern game, you create offense with five men and you defend with five men. That's how we approach it."
Still, it's fair to wonder if the Hawks are using their top six D-men every night. Isn't one of them -- a certain rookie phenom by the name of Henri Jokiharju -- playing in Rockford? Perhaps he could help shore up some of the weak spots.
That may be the case, but Colliton and general manager Stan Bowman believe it's better for Jokiharju to cut his teeth in the minors for a while.
"He's where he should be," Colliton said. "Playing a lot, being a very important contributor there and we're pretty happy with our group, so I think it's a good situation. … Obviously, we know he can play at this level, but we're looking for him to be an elite player in the NHL and this is the right thing."
Bowman also pointed out that while the Hawks are allowing plenty of goals, they are winning without Jokiharju regardless. Would they be 10-1-0 instead of 9-2-0 if he were in Chicago?
Maybe, but maybe they'd be 8-3-0 or worse.
"If he was here, someone that (helped us win) all those games wouldn't be playing, right?" Bowman said. "We think very highly of Henri, otherwise we wouldn't be giving him the opportunity we are in Rockford.
"He's playing the most minutes every night. He's the No. 1 defenseman night after night in Rockford. He's playing on the power play. He's growing his game, so it's not a bad thing. I don't see it as a negative. He's 19 years old."
So as for this work in progress, it looks like the Hawks must keep lighting up the scoreboard if they expect to continue this incredible playoff push that nobody saw coming just a few weeks ago.
Most goals allowed in the Western Conference:
1. BLACKHAWKS 222
2. Edmonton 197
3. Colorado 191
4. San Jose 187
5. Vancouver 185
5. Anaheim 185
Most goals scored in the Western Conference:
1. San Jose 219
2. Calgary 217
3. Winnipeg 200
4. BLACKHAWKS 199
5. Nashville 190
6. Colorado 189
(Statistics through Tuesday)