How hot is Colliton's seat? Blackhawks need to fix things during next 4 games

New week. New hope.

That's the way the Blackhawks should be approaching the next nine days after a rough 0-2-1 start to the season.

This upcoming four-game homestand — which begins Tuesday against the tough and also stumbling Islanders — is where the Hawks must right the ship.

Because if they don't, you have to wonder how long they'll stick with coach Jeremy Colliton.

So how hot is Colliton's seat? It's a good question, but one has to believe management will give him more than 5-10 games to work with this revamped roster. Still, he better get things turned around quickly because those opening games were a complete embarrassment.

Here's the ugly tale of the (stick)tape:

• Stanley Cup-favorite Colorado scored 3 goals in just more than five minutes in the first period en route to a 4-2 victory last Wednesday. The Avs took 16 of the first 18 shots on goal.

• Two nights later, it took New Jersey just 17 seconds to make it 1-0. The Hawks rallied with 2 late goals but lost when Jack Hughes beat Kevin Lankinen 57 seconds into overtime.

• Pittsburgh, playing without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, then abused the Hawks with a 4-goal first period that sent goalie Marc-Andre Fleury into a fit of rage in the PPG Paints Arena tunnel after he was pulled. The Hawks took fewer shots on goal (3) than the Penguins scored in the opening 20 minutes. Final score: 5-2.

“Overall we haven't been tough enough to beat,” said Colliton, whose contract runs through next season. “We've got to be harder to beat, and a lot of that's the decision making. Too many odd-man rushes the other way, particularly 2-on-1s.”

Slow starts are nothing new under Colliton. In his first season, the Hawks were 2-5-2 after nine games and 3-6-3 after 15 before slowly ramping it up. Last season, the Hawks lost their first four (one in OT) then went 13-4-4 in their next 21.

But those teams were much less talented. Theoretically, anyway.

What's disturbing is how the Hawks have played. They're slow to react, confused at times and taking too many chances defensively.

“We're making decisions that put us in a gambling position and you're hoping you come up with it, and that's not the right approach,” Colliton said. “We have a good power play, we have good goaltending, our penalty kill's been good.

“So let's play a game (where) we're going to make it difficult on the opponent to create chances.”

After practice Monday, Tyler Johnson spoke about how the structure has changed a bit from last year. Combine that with the fact the Hawks are — once again — trying to get used to a host of new faces and it's a recipe for disaster.

“It's just being in the right spots, taking (fewer) chances, backing each other and playing within the structure that we talk about,” Johnson said. “Sometimes we just get away from that a little bit. The NHL is too good of a league that when your structure fails you and guys are in the wrong spots, other teams make you pay. ... We almost have to play a little bit more of a boring game.”

Boring certainly works — as long as you're doing it with your hair on fire at all times because that hasn't happened enough so far. We could point to the coaching staff, but it's up to the players to come out with that mentality.

There's no easing into a game. It's time to play every shift like it's a Game 7, which is something Colliton has preached since he was in Rockford.

It's time to listen. Or we might see Colliton's coaching career with the Hawks end sooner than anyone planned.


Roster move:

The Hawks called up forward Mike Hardman from Rockford and sent defenseman Ian Mitchell to the IceHogs. Hardman skated on a line with Alex DeBrincat and Henrik Borgstrom at practice.

Hossa coming back:

The Hawks will honor Marian Hossa before taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins at the United Center on Tuesday, November 9. Hossa will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame the following weekend.

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