What's up with tough start to trip for Chicago Blackhawks?
Back-to-back losses to Winnipeg and Edmonton was certainly no way for the Blackhawks to begin a critical five-game road trip.
But that's what happened, which pretty much means the Hawks are approaching DEFCON 1.
So let's open things up to the fans, many of whom are going nuclear on social media.
Q: When does Jeremy Colliton get fired?
@Lost_Sanity on Twitter
A: Not this season. Or at least 20 games into next season.
He's done a decent job during an injury-plagued campaign that's seen Duncan Keith, Brandon Saad, Dylan Strome, Drake Caggiula, Andrew Shaw, Calvin de Haan and Brent Seabrook all miss significant time. There's no way Stan Bowman gives up on him just yet.
Q: What do the Blackhawks even get for Erik Gustafsson if he were to be traded? Value clearly won't be as high as it would have been in the past.
@talkinhawkey on Twitter
A: I was thinking about this Wednesday.
Gustafsson has 6 goals and 19 assists in 54 games.
This after a spectacular 17-goal campaign in 2018-19. Well, a spectacular offensive campaign.
Most playoff-caliber teams probably would want Gustafsson to be a third-pairing guy who could also quarterback one of the power-play units.
To me, that brings you a midlevel prospect and a sixth-round pick. Or maybe just a third-round pick.
I don't see a team parting with a first- or second-round selection, that's for sure.
Q: How long is Colliton going to have Dylan Strome play as a winger?
@kikiskeys on Twitter
A: Since the 15th game of the season, Strome was consistently hitting the scoresheet until suffering an ankle injury in Game 44 against Calgary. Since returning, he has no points in four appearances and he was a healthy scratch during the Hawks' 5-3 loss Tuesday at Edmonton.
Colliton changed Kirby Dach's role coming out of the break, allowing the rookie to center Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane. That forced Strome to a wing because Jonathan Toews, David Kampf and Ryan Carpenter are all natural centers.
So unless Dach regresses or injuries hit, Strome figures to stay on the outside for the foreseeable future.
Q: What dark-horse candidate might get moved at the deadline?
A: If the Hawks keep losing, general manager Stan Bowman should listen to every offer that comes his way. The most likely dark-horse candidates are:
• Brandon Saad. He's a two-time Cup winner who knows what playoff hockey is all about. He carries a $6 million cap hit through next season.
• Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner. How are contract talks going with Lehner? If he's asking for too much maybe Bowman lets him go. And does Crawford want another chance to win a Cup? See if he'll waive his modified no-trade clause. Colorado seems to be the most obvious suitor for either goalie -- if both teams are OK with an intradivision deal.
• Connor Murphy. Hey, you asked for dark horses, right? This is a serious longshot, but Murphy could really bolster a team's back end. He's signed for two more years at a $3.85 million hit, so a team would need to put together a fantastic package.
Q: Will Colliton ever yell at the refs for their shenanigans? Why is the power play powerless? How long will this losing streak last? Will Stan still stand pat and not make a move at the deadline this year, even though we're (probably) not making the playoffs?
@thatgingertyler on Twitter
A: I usually only allow one question per customer, but I figured I'd attack these in rapid-fire fashion.
2. Too many players are deferring to Patrick Kane / the Hawks took too long to realize, hey, that Dominik Kubalik guy's got a great shot.
3. It's at four games now. I say it hits 5 and then they beat Flames.
4. Bowman will sell. Erik Gustafsson for sure, but it's tough to say who else beyond that. Nobody should be off limits -- well, except Kane, of course.